News & Updates


  • Monday, July 25, 2005 Statement by SEIU President Andrew L. Stern on Disaffiliating from the AFL-CIO

    July 25, 2005

    Thank you for joining all of the SEIU executive officers today -- Anna Burger, Eliseo Medina, Tom Woodruff, Gerry Hudson, and Mary Kay Henry.

    Yesterday, SEIU made the decision to not participate in today's AFL-CIO convention.

    Last night, after years of discussion across all levels of our union, our International Executive Board met. Today, we have made the decision to disaffiliate from the AFL-CIO.

    I want to stress that this was not an easy or happy decision.

    In itself, it represents not an accomplishment, but simply an enormous opportunity, and a recognition that we are in the midst of the most rapid transformative moment in economic history, and workers are suffering.

    We are walking down a road, and the mileposts are clear.

    A country that once had 35 percent union membership is now down to 8 percent in the private sector.

    And the results are that workers have less health care,

    less time to spend with their families, less secure pensions in their retirement, but more debt and more insecurity about the future.

    The American dream has slipped out of reach for too many.

    Our world has changed. Our economy has changed. Employers have changed; but the AFL-CIO is not willing to make fundamental change as well.

    By contrast, SEIU has changed.

    Our union was started in 1923, right here in Chicago. In fact, we're meeting today at SEIU Local 1 -- our very first local. Those original members were janitors -- Immigrants: Italian, Irish, Polish -- who traveled to this country in search of that same American dream.

    And despite the fact that other unions looked down on them, these workers united, found strength, and gave birth to a new union which has become the largest union in the AFL-CIO and the fastest growing in the world.

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  • Monday, July 25, 2005 SEIU Disaffiliates From National AFL-CIO to Concentrate on Strategies to Unite Millions More Working People

    July 25, 2005

    The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which with 1.8 million members was the largest and fastest growing union in the AFL-CIO, has officially disaffiliated from the national federation, effective today.

    The disaffiliation letter from SEIU President Andrew L. Stern noted that SEIU has in the past nine years "developed new strategies and new priorities to ensure that workers in our sectors of the economy have their hard work valued and rewarded."

    As a result, SEIU has helped more than 900,000 workers -- most of them low-wage people of color, immigrants, and working women -- to join the union movement and in so doing to gain health coverage for their families, retirement benefits, and the training, staff, and tools to provide quality service.

    "We know that all the leaders of the AFL-CIO would like to see a world where workers' efforts are valued and rewarded," Stern said in the letter to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. "But for many years, and particularly in the past nine months, our members and leaders have concluded that there are sincere, fundamental, and irreconcilable disagreements about how to accomplish that goal.

    "We respect every one of those who have heartfelt ideas that differ from ours, and recognize and appreciate that they too have devoted their lives to the union movement. But there comes a time where if we can't reach agreement on basic principles, we should each devote our efforts and resources to pursuing strategies we believe will help working people navigate the rough waters of the global economy, while supporting each other's efforts wherever we can."

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  • Sunday, July 24, 2005 Statement of Anna Burger on Change to Win's Formation

    July 24, 2005

    This is an exciting day, and a proud moment in the history of the labor movement.

    Today, we say that workers are going to take their country back. Today, we say, the time has come for big ideas and bold thinking. Today will be remembered as the rebirth of union strength in America.

    Unfortunately, workers desperately need that rebirth. The American Dream is out of reach for an increasing number of families.

    The exciting news is that, the Change to Win Coalition is about one thing: new hope for millions of workers in economic crisis.

    All of organized labor sees this crisis. Our Coalition, however, believes that we can do something about it -- and has a bold plan of action to make real change.

    We will provide the focus, the strategy, and the resources to help workers achieve the economic security they so richly deserve.

    This debate began with a desire to reform the AFL-CIO. It has evolved into an exciting new movement to organize and unite workers across America -- and, in fact, around the world.

    Over the past 9 months, every corner of the labor movement has debated reform. The AFL-CIO, to its credit, has listened to us. But in the end, they have not really heard us.

    The language of our reforms has been adopted, but not the substance. Our principles have been watered down and papered over. Our vision has become the object of tactical haggling.

    And today, we have reached a point, where our differences have become unresolvable.

    Workers cannot afford half-measures.

    Workers wake up every day and they don't think about living in a red state or a blue state. They think about the difficult choices they face. Housing or health care. Bus fare or breakfast.

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  • Friday, July 22, 2005 United Farm Workers of America Joins Change to Win Coalition

    CHICAGO, IL - The United Farm Workers of America (UFW) announced today that it was joining the Change to Win Coalition, the new workers organization devoted to transforming the American labor movement.

    "To realize our goal of organizing significant numbers of low-to moderate-wage Latino and immigrant workers in the face of fierce employer resistance during the next decade, we must move aggressively to apply new resources and make changes in our own organization," said UFW President Arturo Rodriguez. "We are convinced the Change to Win Coalition mirrors our commitment of finding new ways to refocus on organizing and vigorously pursue anti-worker employers."

    "The Coalition is thrilled to have the Farm Workers join our efforts to improve the lives of millions of American workers," Coalition Chair Anna Burger said today. "This is a significant moment in American labor history. The Union of Ceasar Chavez is the heart and soul of the labor movement, and its affiliation with our Coalition sends a powerful signal that we are on the right course."

    "The Farm Workers represent the highest aspirations of all American workers," Burger said. "Their historic commitment to organizing low-to moderate-wage workers is the essence of the Change to Win Coalition's vision of giving hope to millions of workers seeking the American Dream."

    The Change to Win Coalition was formed on June 15, 2005 to marshal the collective strength of its unions (listed below) to develop and implement strategies to bring the labor movement into the 21st century. Since its inception, two additional unions, the Carpenters and the Farm Workers, have joined the original five. The Change to Win Coalition unions represent nearly 6 million workers.

    Change to Win Coalition:
    Farm Workers

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  • Friday, July 22, 2005 El Sindicato de Trabajadores Agri­colas se une a la Coalicion Cambiar para Ganar

    CHICAGO, IL.- El Sindicato de Trabajadores Agrícolas, United Farm Workers (UFW por sus siglas en inglÃs), anunció hoy que se unía a la Coalición Cambiar para Ganar, la nueva organización de trabajadores dedicada a transformar el movimiento laboral estadounidense.

    "Para hacer realidad nuestro objetivo de organizar a un gran número de trabajadores latinos e inmigrantes de bajos a moderados ingresos, frente a la feroz resistencia que ofrecerán los patronos durante la próxima década, debemos pasar a utilizar más agresivamente nuevos recursos y efectuar cambios en nuestra propia organización”, declaró Arturo Rodríguez, Presidente de UFW. “Estamos convencidos de que la Coalición Cambiar para Ganar refleja nuestro compromiso con encontrar nuevas maneras de reenfocarnos en organizar y de perseguir enérgicamente a empleadores anti trabajadores".

    “En la Coalición estamos contentísimos de que los Trabajadores Agrícolas se hayan unido a nuestros esfuerzos de mejorar las vidas de millones de trabajadores estadounidenses”, declaró el día de hoy Anna Burger, Presidente de la Coalición. “Este es un momento significativo de la historia del movimiento laboral estadounidense. El sindicato de CÃsar Chávez es el cuerpo y alma del movimiento laboral, y su afiliación a nuestra Coalición envía una poderosa señal de que estamos en el camino correcto”.

    “Los Trabajadores Agrícolas representan las más altas aspiraciones de todos los trabajadores estadounidenses”, dijo Burger. “Su compromiso histórico con organizar a trabajadores de bajos a moderados ingresos es la esencia de la visión de dar esperanza a millones de trabajadores que persiguen el Sueño Americano propugnada por la Coalición Cambiar para Ganar”.

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