AFL-CIO clears way for solidarity charters

WASHINGTON — Some details remain to be settled, but the AFL-CIO announced Nov. 16 that it will begin issuing “solidarity charters” to locals whose international unions recently disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO and joined the Change to Win Federation.

Locals that apply for and receive a solidarity charter will be able to participate fully in those state and local labor movements, including holding office, voting, and having full rights in state and local AFL-CIO organizations. The charters set up the expectation that Change to Win and AFL-CIO unions will work side-by-side on workplace organizing and on legislative and electoral campaigns, including being able to contact each other’s members for political mobilization.

The charters, which will be issued directly by the AFL-CIO in Washington, will be valid until Dec. 31, 2006, raising the prospect that unions will be able to work together much more effectively in statewide and congressional elections next November.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney released a “protocol” governing the charters, which he said covers all areas of agreement with the Change to Win Federation except a fee payment at the national level.

Among expectations, the protocol requires participating locals not to raid or support raiding on other locals, and to pay local affiliation dues, based on their membership size, that are at least what they paid to the state or local organization before their international disaffiliated.

Change to Win Chair Anna Burger said the agreement represents “a step forward for workers. Change to Win has always encouraged our local affiliates to participate in state and local bodies.”

This article excerpted from workdayMinnesota. Michael Kuchta (advocate at stpaulunions.org) edits the Union Advocate, the official publication of the St. Paul Trades & Labor Assembly.