John Sweeney: Tick…Tick…Tick…

By February 22, 2005Labor Unions

If you scroll all the way down to November 28, you’ll see a thing called, “Sweeney’s Last Term“, where we stared into our crystal ball and predicted that this’ll be it for AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. This was like predicting that the Internet will catch on. As it turns out, this blog entry created quite a dust-up, making that great publication, The Hill, as well as the Chicago Tribune, the SF Chronicle and eventually working its way onto the Imus in the Morning Show. The AFL even got into the act, complaining that we were just taking advantage of their disarray. We pointed out that their disarray didn’t make the story any less true, and so it remains.

Well, the clock keeps ticking for Brother Sweeney. In a piece in Saturday’s Washington Post, Tom Edsall reports that Hotel and Restaurant Union President John Wilhelm (as we predicted) is gearing up for a run at Sweeney. Edsall’s piece is pretty accurate judging from our sources, but he couldn’t resist the paean: “Under Sweeney, organized labor’s political clout has been significantly strengthened, with boosted voter turnout among union households and high Democratic vote margins among union members going to the polls.” He goes on to note that union membership continues, however, to decline. First of all, membership would seem to be pretty darned important, no? And, we’re not sure he boosted their political clout all that much, since their candidates pretty uniformly have sunk like a stone.

In any event, one faithful blog reader deep within the bowels of the incredible shrinking AFL wrote to us to complain about all this self-absorption over there about the fate of the AFL-CIO, wondering why the member unions aren’t more focused on their own well-being. They went on to point out the idiocy of the proposals to cut the AFL budget by 50%, asking whether NAM members, facing a tough economy would advocate as their cure-all proposal cutting the NAM budget in half. (We certainly hope not!)Good point.

Carpenter’s President Doug McCarron comes out of all this looking pretty good. He left the AFL and took all that money that was propping up causes that his members didn’t believe in and he put it into — gasp! — organizing. If they had a search committee and not an election, Doug McCarron would be the head of the AFL-CIO. For the moment, however, it looks like Wilhelm is making progress, gaining some traction, but still needs the support of a few more unions to put him over the top.

For John Sweeney, the gold watch is calling, and ticking….

Stay tuned.