There is (Less and Less) Power in a Union

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The AFL-CIO, reeling after many high-profile defections in the past year, invites the National Education Association (NEA) into its coalition–partially. From the AP report:

Reg Weaver, president of the NEA, the nation's largest teachers' union, said the partnership will give educators more muscle when they campaign for candidates for local political office and advocate legislation.

This move is not a formal merging, but merely allowing NEA locals to join the AFL-CIO.

Weaver's stated reason for glee over this move is interesting in light of what the article points out later on:

The partnership comes as the AFL-CIO, a federation of more than 50 unions representing 9 million workers, prepares for its first election cycle since about a half-dozen unions split from the federation, complaining that it emphasized political campaigns over organizing unions. The AFL-CIO lost more than a fourth of its members in the rift began in July 2005.

Sounds like this NEA move is just more of the same emphasis on politics that helped cripple the AFL-CIO in the first place.

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  1. Unions suck because the union leadership and company management are in the same tax brackets.

  2. Sounds like this NEA move is just more of the same emphasis on politics that helped cripple the AFL-CIO in the first place.

    That’s not necessarily an unintelligent move:

    1. The AFL-CIO might see the writing on the wall of shrinking union power and simply want to consolidate the niche market of unions focused on politics.

    2. There ain’t no union better at focusing on politics than the NEA.

  3. It’s for the children!

  4. There ain’t no union better at focusing on politics than the NEA.

    Other unions’ thugs merely beat up the scabs. The NEA’s thugs beat up the scabs and make it seem like the NEA is doing a public service.

  5. Somewhere (I can’t remember) I read a cogent analysis of the AFL-CIO split that ties into this move. Basically, the unions that left are the ones that serve growing and thriving industries (various types of service workers, mostly)–basically, they would rather have dues spent on organizing activities, since political activity doesn’t help them much. The remaining unions in the AFL-CIO are mostly struggling industrial unions for whom organizing activity is less important, since they already control most of that workforce, and their biggest issue is how to maintain what they have in the face of layoffs and bankruptcies. And that requires more active political work. As such, the NEA’s political acumen could come in handy, though I would think that they would be a poor fit culturally with the industrial unions.

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