When Change to Win left the AFL-CIO in 2005, 35% of the labor federation’s revenue left with it. Despite this, Labor provided massive, unprecedented support for political purposes in the last two election cycles. The investments have resulted in a “worker friendly” Congress and White House.
But there are negative results for Labor as well. The Machinists union issued a report in June showing the AFL-CIO’s net assets have fallen to a negative $2.3 million in June 2008 from a positive $66 million in July 2000. Do not count on this uncomfortable fact being discussed openly in Pittsburgh.
In addition, Greg Junemann, President of the IFPTE, decided in July not to run for Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, in the name of “unity.” After meeting with Richard Trumka, Mr. Junemann’s goal of returning the AFL-CIO to financial stability would now be achieved with a membership in the AFL-CIO finance committee.
So how will the AFL-CIO help itself financially? Like any other business, it must reduce costs, increase revenues, or both.
Which brings us back to EFCA. To increase revenues, unions must increase membership. To do that, they must find an easier and faster way to organize and get first contracts with mandatory union dues payments as a condition of employees maintaining their jobs.
Failing that, unions will not be able to support their favored politicians in 2010 and 2012. And this is why EFCA is not dead. It is just lurking in ambush. The financial interdependence of Labor and legislators creates a compelling environment for a deal.