The AFL-CIO, the biggest alliance of labor unions in America, is feeling feeble these days. You can tell because lately it’s been trying to regain some of its old clout by partnering with non-labor progressive groups, effectively bringing millions of non-union members into the fold. The problem is that some of the unions under the AFL-CIO umbrella are beginning to push back against this idea. The Hill reports:
“This is the American Federation of Labor. We are supposed to be representing workers and workers’ interests,” [president of the International Association of Fire Fighters] Schaitberger said. “We are not going to be the American Federation of Progressive and Liberal Organizations.”
We can’t help but remember being told that the Obama victory of 2008 augured 40 years of Democratic dominance and doomed the GOP to decades of internal decay. But stories like these make the Party of Blue look about as broken as the Party of Lincoln. Far from seeming like a strong, confident coalition, Big Blue seems more like it’s circling the wagons. Pleading with disparate factions of a party to stick together under a single, unwieldy umbrella is generally a sign of insecurity, not confidence.If there were any doubt that a blue civil war is in fact underway, the AFL-CIO’s push will help bring it to the fore:
Others in labor, especially in the building and construction sectors, have aggressively pushed back against the proposal. Those unions have clashed repeatedly with environmental groups over building the Keystone XL pipeline.“Does that mean we are going to turn energy policy of the AFL-CIO over to the Sierra Club? I have concern about that, as well as I should,” said Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA).
When Big Labor feels compelled to partner with groups that work against the interests of its own members in order to stay strong, we can say that the crisis has arrived. One factor that may accelerate blue rot is the aggressive efforts of its traditional defenders to preserve it.[AFL-CIO sign photo courtesy of Djembayz]