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Four major unions to boycott AFL-CIO convention, labor officials say

Daily Staff Report

AP PoliticalCHICAGO – The AFL-CIO succumbed to division Sunday, with its largest union deciding to bolt the 50-year-old federation and three others poised to do so in a dispute over how to reverse organized labor’s long slide.The four unions, representing nearly one-third of the AFL-CIO’s 13 million members, announced Sunday they would boycott the federation’s convention that begins Monday. They are part of the Coalition to Win, a group of seven unions vowing to reform the labor movement – outside the AFL-CIO if necessary.The Service Employees International Union, with 1.8 million members, plans to announce Monday that it is leaving the AFL-CIO, said several labor officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.The Teamsters union also was on the verge of disaffiliating, and would likely to be the first to follow SEIU’s lead, the officials said. Two other boycotting unions were likely to leave the federation: United Food and Commercial Workers and UNITE HERE, a group of textile and hotel workers.”Our differences are so fundamental and so principled that at this point I don’t think this is a chance there will be a change of course,” said UFCW President Joe Hansen.”Our differences have become unresolvable,” said Anna Burger, chairman of the Change to Win Coalition which is setting itself up to be a rival of the AFL-CIO. “Today will be remembered as a rebirth of union strength in America.”AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, expected to win easy re-election at the convention, said his team “bent over backward” to appease the dissidents “until it’s given us a pain in the you-know-where.” Addressing hundreds of unions members, the embattled president said disunity in the AFL-CIO puts workers at risk. But he said he held out hope that dissidents “might come to their senses someday.”


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