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Posted by motoman 04/11/2009 @ 11:12

Tags : afl-cio, trade unions, organizations, politics

News headlines
AFL-CIO reiterates opposition to SunRail - Central Florida Political Pulse
Hours before the Senate Democratic caucus is scheduled to talk about Central Florida's commuter-rail project -- and the day before a critical committee hearing -- the AFL-CIO is stressing its continued opposition to the SunRail train....
Immigration Accord by Labor Boosts Obama Effort - New York Times
John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, top, and Joe T. Hansen, leader of Change to Win, have agreed to join forces in the debate over overhauling immigration policies. When the issue last came up, the groups were divided, and legislation failed....
National unions form coordinating committee; AFL-CIO president ... - Workday Minnesota
By Mark Gruenberg WASHINGTON - AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney formally told top leaders of the federation that he will retire at the AFL-CIO Convention in September. At the same time, Sweeney, Change To Win leaders and National Education Association...
AFL-CIO Web site offers resources for unemployed - Detroit Free Press
By Steven Wimberley • Free Press Staff Writer • April 7, 2009 The AFL-CIO and Working America launched a new Web site today that offers a database of resources and advice for unemployed people looking for jobs....
Health-Hygiene items again flow to homeless shelters - Milwaukee Labor Press
Leaders, rank-and-file and partners will run their own events or simply drop off items at the offices of the AFL-CIO Community Services liaisons or the MALC itself at 633 S. Hawley Rd. There will also be a special collection at the May 6 monthly...
AT&T Workers: ‘No Way’ to Huge Health Care Cuts and More ... - AFL-CIO
The AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department delivers daily, bargaining-related news and research resources to more than 900 subscribers. Union leaders can register for this service through our website, Bargaining@Work. CWA, AT&T: Health care benefits...
AFL-CIO endorses Cockrel for Detroit mayor - Detroit Free Press
The Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO has endorsed Mayor Ken V. Cockrel Jr. in the special election for Detroit mayor. “We have not taken this decision lightly. Many of us live in Detroit and are certainly concerned. Those who do not live in Detroit remain...
Unions at center of race for NJ governor - Philadelphia Inquirer
But New Jersey AFL-CIO president Charles Wowkanech said their stands on labor issues in the June 2 primary could haunt them in the general election. After the AFL-CIO's June endorsement meeting, Wowkanech plans to tune up the state's one million union...
/CORRECTION -- AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust/ - FOXBusiness
WASHINGTON, March 24, 2009 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ ----While the stock market declined dramatically, the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) achieved one of its strongest showings ever against its benchmark in February. The HIT outperformed the...
Stewart Acuff, special assistant to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney ... - Cleveland Indy Media
The Colorado Statesman Stewart Acuff, special assistant to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and spearhead of the EFCA, told The Colorado Statesman this week that organized labor is ready to work on behalf of lawmakers who “do the right thing” and support...


AFL-CIO headquarters at 815 16th Street NW in Washington, D.C.. St. John's Episcopal Church is on the right.

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, commonly AFL-CIO, is a national trade union center, the largest federation of unions in the United States, made up of 56 national and international unions (including Canadian), together representing more than 10 million workers. It was formed in 1955 when the AFL and the CIO merged after a long estrangement. From 1955 until 2005, the AFL-CIO's member unions represented nearly all unionized workers in the United States. The largest union in the AFL-CIO is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), with more than a million members, since 2005 when several large unions split away from AFL-CIO.

The AFL-CIO is a federation of international labor unions. As a voluntary federation, the AFL-CIO has little authority over the affairs of its member unions except in extremely limited cases (such as the ability to expel a member union for corruption (Art. X, Sec. 17) and enforce resolution of disagreements over jurisdiction or organizing). As of January 2007, accounting for the disaffiliation of the Change to Win Federation unions, the AFL-CIO had 54 member unions.

Membership in the AFL-CIO is largely unrestricted. Since its inception as the American Federation of Labor, the AFL-CIO has supported an image of the federation as the "House of Labor"—an all-inclusive, national federation of "all" labor unions. Currently, the AFL-CIO's only explicit restriction on membership excludes those labor unions whose "policies and activities are consistently directed toward the achievement of the program or purposes of authoritarianism, ­totalitarianism, terrorism and other forces that suppress individual liberties and freedom of association..." (Art. II, Sec. 7). Under Art. II, Sec. 4 and Sec. 8, the AFL-CIO has the authority to place conditions on the issuance of charters, and formally has endorsed the policy of merging small unions into larger ones. In 2001, the AFL-CIO formally established rules regarding the size, financial stability, governance structure, jurisdiction, and leadership stability of unions seeking affiliation. And although the AFL-CIO constitution permits the federation to charter Directly Affiliated Local Unions, the AFL-CIO has largely refused to charter such unions since the 1970s.

Some of the current member unions are listed in section Member unions.

The AFL-CIO is governed by its members, who meet in a quadrennial convention. Each member union elects delegates, based on proportional representation. The AFL-CIO's state federations, central and local labor councils, constitutional departments, and constituent groups are also entitled to delegates. The delegates elect officers and vice presidents, debate and approve policy, and set dues.

The AFL-CIO has four executive officers: president, secretary-treasurer and executive vice president. The executive vice president is the most recently established office; it was created by constitutional amendment in 1995. Each officer's term is four years, and elections occur at the quadrennial convention.

The AFL-CIO membership also elects 42 vice presidents at each convention, who have a term of four years. Election is by plurality, with the top 42 candidates with the highest votes winning office. Article VI, Sec. 5, of the AFL-CIO constitution permits the president of the federation to appoint up to three additional vice presidents during the period when the convention is not in session, in order to increase the racial, gender, ethnic and sexual diversity of the executive council.

The three officers and the vice presidents form the executive council, which is the federation's governing body between quadrennial conventions. It is required to meet twice a year, and in practice meets four or five times a year. It passes resolutions, directly oversees AFL-CIO's legislative program, and has other duties. In 2005, the AFL-CIO constitution was changed to permit the executive council to form "Industrial Coordinating Committees" based on geography, employer, occupation or other appropriate subdivisions to coordinate the organizing and collective bargaining work of the member unions.

An executive committee was authorized by constitutional change in 2005. The executive committee is composed of the president, vice presidents from the 10 largest affiliates, and nine other vice presidents chosen in consultation with the executive council. The other two officers are non-voting ex officio members. The executive committee governs the AFL-CIO between meetings of the executive council, approves its budget, and issues charters (two duties formerly discharged by the executive council). It is required to meet at least four times a year, and in practice meets on an as-needed basis (which may mean once a month or more).

The AFL-CIO also has a General Board. Its members are the AFL-CIO executive council, the chief executive officer of each member union, the president of each AFL-CIO constitutional department, and four regional representatives elected by the AFL-CIO's state federations. The General Board's duties are very limited. It only takes up matters referred to it by the executive council, but referrals are rare. However, because of the sensitive nature of political endorsements and the advisability of consensus when making them, the General Board traditionally is the body that provides the AFL-CIO's endorsement of candidates for president and vice president of the United States.

Article XIV of the AFL-CIO constitution permits the AFL-CIO to charter and organize state, regional, local and city-wide bodies. They are commonly called "state federations" and "central labor councils" (CLCs), although the names of the various bodies varies widely at the local and regional level. Each body has its own charter, which establishes its jurisdiction, governance structure, mission, and more. Jurisdiction tends to be geo-political: Each state or territory has its own "state federation." In large cities, there is usually a CLC covering the city. Outside large cities, CLCs tend to be regional (to achieve an economy of scale in terms of dues, administrative effectiveness, etc.). State federations and CLCs are each entitled to representation and voting rights at the quadrennial convention.

The duties of state federations differ from those of CLCs. State federations tend to focus on state legislative lobbying, statewide economic policy, state elections, and other issues of a more over-arching nature. CLCs tend to focus on county or city lobbying, city or county elections, county or city zoning and other economic issues, and more local needs.

Both state federations and CLCs work to mobilize members around organizing campaigns, collective bargaining campaigns, electoral politics, lobbying (most often rallies and demonstrations), strikes, picketing, boycotts, and similar needs.

Although the AFL-CIO constitution requires that all state and local unions affiliate with the appropriate state and local AFL-CIO body, in practice this is not enforced. Many unions do not affiliate with their state federation or CLC, or affiliate only a portion of their membership, leaving state feds and CLCs chronically short of funds.

Interestingly, the AFL-CIO constitution permits international unions to pay state fed and CLC dues directly, rather than have each local or state fed pay them. This relieves each union's state and local affiliates of the administrative duty of assessing, collecting and paying the dues. International unions assess the AFL-CIO dues themselves, and collect them on top of their own dues-generating mechanisms or simply pay them out of the dues the international collects. But not all international unions pay their required state fed and CLC dues.

State federations and CLCs are historically important to the AFL and its successor, the AFL-CIO. George Meany, for example, had little experience as a union member or local union leader, but rose quickly to the top of the AFL-CIO due to his effectiveness as president of the New York State AFL. During the AFL's early history, when the federation remained as apolitical as possible, state feds were the legislative dynamos—lobbying for workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, child labor laws and the minimum wage. But in the 1970s and 1980s, state feds and CLCs became organizational backwaters. They were revitalized beginning in 1995, when John Sweeney campaigned heavily for their votes in his successful quest to unseat AFL-CIO interim president Thomas R. Donahue. Sweeney has continued to emphasize them throughout his presidency.

Throughout its history, the AFL-CIO had a number of constitutionally mandated departments. They are governed by Article XII of the constitution. Initially, the rationale for having them was that affiliates felt that such decisions should not be left to the whims (or political needs) of the president of the federation.

Currently, Art. XII establishes seven departments, but allows the executive council or convention of the AFL-CIO to establish others. Each department is largely autonomous, but its must conform to the AFL-CIO's constitution and policies. Each department has its own constitution, membership, officers, governance structure, dues and organizational structure. Departments may establish state and local bodies. Any member union of the AFL-CIO may join a department, provided it formally affiliates and pays dues. The chief executive officer of each department is may sit in on the meetings of the AFL-CIO executive council, and departments have representation and voting rights at the AFl-CIO convention.

One of the most famous departments was the Industrial Union Department (IUD). It had been constitutionally mandated by the new AFL-CIO constitution created by the merger of the AFL and CIO in 1955, as CIO unions felt that the AFL's commitment to industrial unionism was not strong enough to permit the department to survive without a constitutional mandate. For many years, the IUD was a de facto organizing department in the AFL-CIO. For example, it provided money to the near-destitute American Federation of Teachers (AFT) as it attempted to organize the United Federation of Teachers in 1961. The organizing money enabled the AFT to win the election and establish its first large collective bargaining affiliate. For many years, the IUD remained rather militant on a number of issues. It provided to be a center of opposition to AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, and was abolished in 1999.

Although constituency groups are not explicitly mentioned in the AFL-CIO constitution, the AFL-CIO exercises its general authority under Article XII to establish them in much the same way that it establishes other departments. Each constituency group has its own charter, officers, governance structure, etc., as constitutionally mandated departments do. They also have the right to sit in on AFL-CIO executive council meetings, and have representational and voting rights at AFL-CIO conventions. Many constituency groups are not self-sustaining and receive significant funding from the AFL-CIO.

Although allied organizations are not explicitly mentioned in the AFL-CIO constitution, the AFL-CIO exercises its general authority under Article XII to establish them in much the same way that it establishes other departments. Each allied organization has its own charter, officers, governance structure, etc., as constitutionally mandated departments do. However, they do not have the right to sit in on AFL-CIO executive council meetings, and do not have representational or voting rights at AFL-CIO conventions. The current three allied organization are all self-sustaining. Their boards are interlocking with the AFL-CIO executive council.

Programs serve a variety of goals. For example, the AFL-CIO Building Trust enables union pension and health funds to invest in the for-profit Building Investment Trust. The Trust then uses this capital to construct office buildings, hotels, housing developments, and other capital construction. Some profits are kept by the Trust to build its investment capabilities, the rest are distributed to the investors. Other programs serve goals such as the banking needs of individual union members (AFL-CIO Credit Union) or to provide credit card and other consumer services (Union Privilege).

The AFL-CIO is affiliated to the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation, formed November 1, 2006, and incorporating the member organizations of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, of which the AFL-CIO had long been part. The ITUC is the most representative international labor grouping.

For the history of the AFL-CIO prior to and including the merger see American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations and Labor unions in the United States.

In 2003, the AFL-CIO began an intense internal debate over the future of the labor movement in the United States with the creation of the New Unity Partnership (NUP), a loose coalition of some of the AFL-CIO's largest unions. This debate intensified in 2004, after the defeat of labor-backed candidate John Kerry in the November 2004 U.S. presidential election. The NUP's program for reform of the federation included reduction of the central bureaucracy, more money spent on organizing new members rather than on electoral politics, and a restructuring of unions and locals, eliminating some smaller locals and focusing more along the lines of industrial unionism.

In 2005, the NUP dissolved and the Change to Win Federation formed, threatening to secede from the AFL-CIO if its demands for major reorganization were not met. As the AFL-CIO prepared for its 50th anniversary convention in late July, three of the federations' four largest unions announced their withdrawal from the federation: the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("The Teamsters"), and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). The Laborers' International Union of North America and the United Farm Workers remain members of both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win Federation.

In addition to the issues listed above, the dispute was seen as deeply personal. SEIU President Andy Stern, the most outspoken leader of the Change to Win coalition, was once considered the protege of former SEIU President and current AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney.

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Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO


The Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO (BCTD) is a constitutionally mandated department of the AFL-CIO. It was founded on February 10, 1908, as a way to overcome the jurisdictional conflicts occurring in the building and construction trade unions. It was largely unsuccessful in this task; conflict ended only after the Taft-Hartley Act largely outlawed jurisdictional strikes.

The BCTD coordinates the activity of building and construction trade unions belonging to the AFL-CIO by establishing jurisdictional rules, coordinating how work is assigned at construction sites, mediating jurisdictional and work assignment disputes, and coordinating interaction between the AFL-CIO's construction unions and employers.

The BCTD also conducts research into construction workplace health and safety issues. It lobbies the United States Congress and executive branch agencies (such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) on health, safety, wages (e.g., the Davis-Bacon Act), and other legislative and regulatory issues. The organization also helps its affiliate unions establish, coordinate and uphold minimum educational standards for apprenticeship and journeyman training programs.

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Rhode Island AFL-CIO

Rhode Island AFL-CIO logo

The Rhode Island AFL-CIO is the statewide affiliate of the AFL-CIO in Rhode Island. Its members include about 250 state and local affiliates of other unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO, representing about 80,000 workers.

The Rhode Island AFL-CIO engages in legislative activity, labor advocacy, and political lobbying and election work. It also coordinates the mobilization of workers on an as-needed basis for rallies, political work, contract campaigns and organizing. The Rhode Island AFL-CIO is particularly concerned with ensuring that the AFL-CIO's voice is heard when it comes to economic development in the state.

The federation is governed by a 93-member executive board. However, a 12-member executive committee of the executive board makes most of the decisions for the organization.

In 2007, its president was Frank Montanaro.

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Union Label Department, AFL-CIO

The Union Label and Service Trades Department, AFL-CIO was founded on April 12, 1909, to promote the products and services produced in America by trade union members—especially those products and services identified by a union label, shop card, store card and/or service button. The department is a constitutionally mandated department of the AFL-CIO.

The Department's offices at located at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Department has a large number of state and local councils and committees, and works closely with AFL-CIO state and local labor bodies to carry out its functions.

The ULS&TD primary function is to promote the union label. These emblems demonstrate that the employees who make the product or provide the service are union workers, and that they are treated fairly by their employers.

The ULS&TD also coordinates national boycotts that have been endorsed by the AFL-CIO executive council. The department maintains and publishes the "Do Not Buy" list of companies being boycotted and the products and services involved. The "Label Letter" publication is the most visible means the Department uses to publicize boycott updates. The Label Letter features special interest stories, alerts, a "Do Buy" section, and other information of interest. Member unions of the AFL-CIO and their local affiliates often reproduce sections and articles of the newsletter to spreading the "union label message" to union members and their families.

One of the more widely known activities of the Department is the annual AFL-CIO Union-Industries Show. Held in a different city each year, the show is a cooperative effort of unions and the companies with which they have contracts. Unions and employers exhibit union-made and American-made products and services. Free to the public, the event often draws large crowds.

ULS&TD also exclusively endorses the "Shop Union Made" Web site as an "official" Internet shopping site for union-made products and services.

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Source : Wikipedia