WASHINGTON, D.C. - The leaders of five of the largest unions in the AFL-CIO - Teamsters, UFCW, UNITE-HERE, Laborers, and SEIU -- today announced the formation of the Change to Win Coalition, a new alliance devoted to creating a large-scale, coordinated campaign to rebuild the American labor movement.
At a meeting this morning with 50 top officials from the unions, the Coalition approved a Constitution and Bylaws that would promote the coordination, cooperation and collective action of their affiliated organizations to boost union strength and improve workers' lives.
"Our goal is to empower the tens of millions of American workers who face the daily challenge of making ends meet and whose voice has been silenced by the overwhelming power of large global corporations and their representatives in Washington," the five Presidents said in a joint statement.
"The basic principle that brings us here today is that American workers cannot win a better life unless more workers belong to unions, and unless those unions have the focus, strategy, and resources to unite workers in their industry and raise standards for pay, health care, pensions, and working conditions," they continued.
While the founding unions hope their proposals are passed by the delegates to the AFL-CIO Convention, it will put them into practice immediately through the structure and activities of the Change to Win Coalition. Regardless of the agenda adopted in Chicago by the AFL-CIO, the Coalition will move forward with its reform program after the Convention.
The union leaders said today that they welcome other labor organizations into the Coalition. They said, "In the Constitution and Bylaws we adopted today, we pledged mutual support and solidarity, no raiding, and no retaliation for those who may choose to leave the AFL-CIO. We seek to change the face not only of what organized labor does, but how it does it."
The Coalition unions have pioneered new organizing techniques. Each member union is contributing funds to the Coalition to take those techniques to a new level by cooperatively organizing non-union workers in key areas of the private sector.
The Coalition launched its website today,
"The world is nearly unrecognizable from what it was a generation ago. The stakes could not be higher. If the labor movement doesn't adopt dramatic changes today to cope with the new economy it will find itself marginalized into oblivion. We come together today to prevent that," the union Presidents said.
The union presidents are:
Terence O'Sullivan, President, Laborers' International Union of North America
James P. Hoffa, President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
John W. Wilhelm, President/Hospitality Industry, UNITE-HERE
Joseph Hansen, President, United Food and Commercial Workers Union
Bruce Raynor, President UNITE-HERE
Andrew Stern, President, Service Employees International Union
Eric Hauser, 202.518.8047
The great American middle class wasn’t something that just happened – it was built brick by brick. It was built by soldiers returning from war and a government that repaid them by giving them a shot at college.