The AFL-CIO is a structure that divides workers’ strength by allowing each union to organize in any industry, then bargain on its own, even when workers share a common employer.
In 1972, I signed a union card for SEIU. And for the last 38 years, 14 as president, it’s been my life. I’ve seen the most miraculous, spectacular things. But there’s a time to learn, a time to lead and a time to leave.
Republicans have been very successful. There are three things Americans don’t like: big unions, big government and big corporations. So Republicans go after big government and big unions, and only talk about small businesses.
It has no enforceable standards to stop a union from conspiring with employers to keep another stronger union out or from negotiating contracts with lower pay and standards that members of another union have spent a lifetime establishing.
The question is always ‘What is the role of a labor movement?’ How much is about collective bargaining, how much is about social change for all workers?
Unions should not be lapdogs to a political party, they should be watchdogs for their members’ interests.
I would say that workers in general, and white workers particularly, are correct that their economic wellbeing is deteriorating.
And I think we understand we cannot make social change for all workers until we have enough strength, membership strength, and at the same time having membership strength and only making change for a limited group of workers is not what our country really needs for people that work.
I’ll never run for office. But I intend, either on the fiscal commission or on issues like immigration, to hopefully have my voice be heard.
When I left SEIU, we had started this quality public service agenda to say to our members what I think the United Auto Workers learned: that quality is our only job security in the long run.