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SEIU Disaffiliates From National AFL-CIO to Concentrate on Strategies to Unite Millions More Working People

Monday, July 25, 2005

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."

Stern said SEIU intends to coordinate with the AFL-CIO and its individual unions and focus efforts on the nearly 90 percent of U.S. workers who have no union, not the few who are already organized. SEIU will seek no-raid agreements with other unions and will cooperate on strategies to help workers unite their strength in their core industries or occupations -- regardless of whether the cooperating unions are in or out of the AFL-CIO.

It also will partner with the AFL-CIO to achieve common goals on ssues important to working families and will contribute financially to those efforts.

SEIU has asked its local unions to continue to participate in and make payments to central labor councils and state labor federations as in the past.

SEIU is one of the 7 unions, representing nearly 6 million workers, that have come together to form the Change To Win Coalition in order to coordinate strategies to help millions more workers form unions in their industries.

"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," Stern said.

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