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Union bust: Democrat woes?
Benj Buck
July 26, 2005

America’s labor force may feel a little more vulnerable these days.  As the AFL-CIO’s annual convention takes place in Chicago, James P. Hoffa tells fellow-Teamsters that the AFL-CIO poorly represents the labor movement. 


AFL-CIO, which began in 1955, represents 13 million laborers.  The fact is that the organization has been the umbrella organization for 54 national and international labor unions.  However, Hoffa and the Teamsters, along with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) make up a sizable portion of the AFL-CIO membership.  The International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ website claims to have 1.4 million members.  Furthermore, SEIU supports 1.8 million people. 


In SEIU’s disassociation letter  they note America’s changing dynamics and state, “America's workers need unions to help ensure that this massive transformation allows them and their families … to share in the rewards of their hard work.”  The letter concludes, “We believe that the next decade can be a time of innovation, new strategies, new energy, new growth, and new ideas that will bring to life a new, 21st century  American Dream.”


Hoffa optimistically calls the disassociation, “The beginning of a new era for America’s workers.”  Other unions will join the Teamsters and the SEIU.  They include Laborers’ International Union of North America, UNITE HERE, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, and United Farm Workers of America.  Together these unions and their seven million members form a coalition known as CHANGE TO WIN.


Will the labor force’s vulnerability play a role on the Democrat Party?


When it comes to politics, very few organizations can be compared to the blue-color work force and their unions.  In the past, Democrats could count on the loyal brigades to spread the message and beat the drum for the liberal platform.  Doug Schoen told the Chicago Tribune, “When you're a minority party and your base divides in two with factional fighting and feuding, that can't be a good thing.”


Some experts, such as University of Maryland’s economist Peter Morici, view the division as one more victory for the Republican Party.  Those who agree with Morici believe that the labor force is once again open for courtship with political parties.  But the opposite could be true.  With the division, the Democrat party can eventually work a two-headed dragon.  However, only time will tell. 


One thing is for sure.  Rather than drumming up support of Democratic politics, the union leaders will spend much of their time recruiting new members.  If any difference is made in politics, at most, it will be short lived.

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