AFL-CIO Head Seeks Funding to Recruit

Article excerpt

Byline: William Glanz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney, who faces criticism within the labor movement for its decline in membership and political clout, proposed yesterday creating a $22.5 million fund to recruit new members.

His proposal is the result of a reform effort that started when the AFL-CIO's executive committee met in March to debate its strategic goals.

The plan is an attempt to ease concerns among a group of unions within the fractured AFL-CIO that believes organized labor needs fundamental reform marked by greater investment in organizing and less investment in political activity.

But Mr. Sweeney, who is running for a third term as head of the federation representing 58 unions, wants to fund both campaigns.

"We cannot be focusing on one at the expense of the other. We must do both," he said.

He didn't outline plans for spending on the AFL-CIO's political campaign.

The so-called dissident unions - the Teamsters, Unite Here, Laborers International Union, Service Employees International Union and United Food and Commercial Workers - responded by saying Mr. Sweeney must provide more detail about the federation's budget.

"In light of today's recommendations from the officers of the AFL-CIO, there remain many unanswered questions," the union presidents stated.

Teamsters President James Hoffa and SEIU President Andrew Stern were among the dissident union leaders supporting a plan to shift $35 million to organizing efforts, $10 million more than Mr. Sweeney proposed yesterday.

The group led by Mr. Hoffa failed to win support for their proposal during the federation's executive committee meeting, but they continue to press for changes and are expected to present a new proposal before elections in July. …