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AFL-CIO Plans 2001 Organizing Agenda

  • April 5, 2001

When the AFL-CIO Executive Council held its winter meeting in Los Angeles in February, the discussion focused largely on adding new members to the rolls. According to Mark Splain, AFL-CIO Director of Organizing, the AFL-CIO added approximately 350,000 members in 2000 compared with 600,000 the year before. "The numbers are not where they should be," he concluded.

President John J. Sweeney said member unions will work to add 700,000 new members this year and a million a year starting in 2002. To reach this goal, the AFL-CIO plans to help affiliates make structural changes needed to support more, better and faster organizing; to provide research to aid affiliates with industry and regional targeting and direct assistance in strategically important campaigns; and to help affiliates recruit and train effective organizers.

The Federation announced an expanded "Voice at Work" campaign. This campaign employs strategies to highlight and publicize employer interference in organiz ing campaigns and to involve community activists, religious leaders and elected officials. Another organizing focus for the AFL-CIO will be the southern states, such as Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas and Kentucky, where President Sweeney has allocated approximately $1 million for 2001 start-up campaigns.

The federation also plans to expand its Union Summer and Seminary Summer programs. Under these programs, college and seminary students are paid a weekly stipend to assist with organizing drives. New for 2001 will be a "Law Student Union Summer" program to assist with campaigns where there is "massive litigation."

Union-free employers should be ready for the push. Training in supervisory and management skills to spot and respond to union organizing activity quickly, lawfully and effectively is recommended now. Once union activity has begun, it already may be too late.

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