Labor Reform Movement: August 15, 2012

Why the AFL-CIO’s Constitution Breeds
Corruption and Needs A Major Overhaul

By Harry Kelber

If you want to know why union members have no rights whatever in the affairs of the AFL-CIO, get yourself a copy of the AFL-CIO’s Constitution. If you don’t have a copy, write for one to the Federation’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Turn to “Article IV: Convention,” whose Section 4, stripped of legalese language, states:

“Each national union or international union shall be entitled to the number of delegates and convention votes as the number of their members. But, each state area or local central body shall be entitled to one delegate and only one convention vote each.”

What that means is that each international union can have thousands of convention votes in elections and debates on policy questions, while state AFLs, no matter how large, are limited to one vote apiece.

This explains how leaders of a handful of leaders of big internationals can run the AFL-CIO as virtually their own corporate private property, because they have the votes to guarantee their re-election for years to come, since there is no one who can challenge them.

Since the Trumka group can be re-elected automatically, they don’t have to respond to the rights and needs of ordinary union members.

Let’s Fight for Honest Unions, Free of Corruption

As of now, no candidate among the AFL-CIO’s 12 million members can run for high office, because all the top positions are “frozen” by President Trumka, who determines which candidates shall be on his slate.

The AFL-CIO, once regarded as a democratic organization, has been transformed into a corporate-run, petty dictatorship.

Meanwhile, major corporations are taking advantage of the do-nothing AFL-CIO leadership and making extraordinary demands on unions — and winning concessions.

The latest is Caterpillar, which has asked for a 6-year wage freeze and other drastic concessions. Then, there are the difficult struggles at Verizon. Unions are taking a beating at the negotiating tables everywhere, because corporations know that AFL-CIO leaders are not mobilizing their members to fight back.

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Union members are faced with this a severe crisis: unless they fight to reform the AFL-CIO, the wage standards, benefits and improved working conditions that they worked so hard for years to establish will disappear.

Are they willing to let that happen?