Putting more emphasis on organizing and mobilizing union members to impact legislation at all levels were the twin focal points of a 20-page packet of recommendations titled “Winning for Working Families,” issued by the officers of the AFL-CIO April 20.

The officers’ set of recommendations responded to the thousands of contributions by both labor bodies and rank and filers to an ongoing discussion within the U.S. labor movement about its future path. At its national convention to be held in late July in Chicago, the federation will continue the sharp debate and elect its national officers.

The report proposes to create a $22.5 million strategic organizing fund. It calls for building year-round capacity for political mobilization, stating, “We will build an army of frontline volunteers by … training 100,000 worksite stewards by 2008.” It proposes the establishment of industry coordinating committees and measures to encourage and facilitate voluntary mergers of unions, especially those with common jurisdictions.

“Many of the proposals submitted to the AFL-CIO addressed the necessity to work harder to develop leaders throughout our movement who reflect the diversity of our members,” the report stated. It proposes requiring that women and people of color be represented in credentialed delegations to AFL-CIO conventions at least in proportion to their numbers in the affiliated unions. It would further charge the AFL-CIO Executive Council and state and central labor councils to develop plans “to achieve targeted levels of diversity by the 2009 convention” and to expand the General Board to include six representatives of AFL-CIO constituency groups as well as four representatives of central labor councils.

But the report’s proposals were quickly overshadowed by a report in the Washington Post of a move by four affiliates to remove their members’ names lists from the federation’s mobilization lists.

The four, SEIU, Unite Here, the Laborers and Teamsters, have demanded their members’ names be withdrawn from the lists the federation has used for its mighty political machine. One labor observer found this troubling because “the re-tooling of labor’s political apparatus has been the most effective thing it accomplished in the last decade.”

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