The AFL-CIO, Change to Win and the National Education Association announced April 7 the creation of the National Labor Coordinating Committee to hammer out a final agreement among their affiliated unions to unite the entire American labor movement.

The committee has already settled major rifts that resulted in seven unions quitting the then 63-member AFL-CIO in 2005 and is drafting the final terms of a deal to form a reunited labor federation.

David Bonior, the former House Democratic whip, has been selected as chairman of the committee.

Bonior said major progress in negotiations was made this week in how the new united federation will deal with organizing, political action and legislative campaigns. He said the remaining issues are how the reunited federation will be governed and how it will be financed.

The main disagreement when the split occurred in 2005 was over the issue of whether union organizing or political action was more important. Since that time events have driven unions on the two sides to work together both in the area of political action and organizing. Labor’s push to elect Barack Obama was widely considered as the most united and successful labor mobilization in U.S. history.
“Recognizing the historic moment we face, the American labor movement must unify to restore the American dream for working families,” Bonior said.

Although he would not give a set timetable for when he expected the federations to achieve formal reunification, indications are that it should happen before the scheduled mid-September convention of the AFL-CIO in Pittsburgh and in time to boost labor’s effort to reform labor law by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.

“I am very pleased with our progress. The committee has pledged to complete its consultations and other work on unification plans over the coming months. A unified labor movement is the way to ensure that the vast majority of Americans who want a union are able to join one,” Bonior said.

He also indicated that, in addition to hammering out the final terms of a unity agreement, the Committee will act nationally on a range of critical issues facing workers, including not just labor law reform but also additional steps needed to stimulate the economy and national health care reform.

The affiliated unions of the AFL-CIO, Change to Win and the NEA represent more than 16 million workers in more than 60 unions.

In addition to the presidents of the AFL-CIO and Change to Win, the membership of the National Labor Coordinating Committee consists of the presidents of the National Education Association, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Teachers, the Communication Workers of America, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Laborers International Union of North America, the Service Employees International Union, Unite Here, the United Auto Workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers and the United Steelworkers.