Friday Follies? ‘AFL-CIO Has Money Problems’

By April 29, 2005Labor Unions

We usually do “Friday Follies” at this point in the week, something totally ridiculous and silly to lighten up the end of your week. Well, we think we found this week’s edition, under the above headline that greeted readers of the Washington Post this morning, a story by Tom Edsall. Apparently, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, for reasons known only to him, with membership, finances and political clout plummeting — and up for re-election in July — decided to have a conference call with reporters. No doubt about it, it yielded a ton of stories, from the laughable and sycophantic NY TimesFacing Dissent, Labor Chief Offers a Plan for Growth” (does this look like growth to you….?) to Edsall’s more blunt assessment in the Post.

The real action, as always, is on the various union sites committed to Sweeney’s demise. One of our many union friends and faithful blog readers called our attention to a piece entitled, “The More Things Change” on the blog, (to which we link) Sweeney rival Andy Stern walks through the many holes in Sweeney’s plan. Says Stern, “They actually propose to invest less overall on helping more workers join our movement than they spend now.” This is a guy (Sweeney) running for re-election? Maybe he’s a mole for the other side.

However, no matter what you read, the facts are relatively inescapable: during Sweeney’s tenure, membership has plummeted, their political clout has dropped like a stone and now with it, their finances. The Sweeney years have seen their reserve fund drop from $61m to $31m, a hemorrhage by any standards. His remedy, as we’ve covered in this space so many times, is to throw more money down the political rathole rather than focus on organizing, as his growing number of foes suggest he do. Remember that we were the first — way back in November — to predict that Sweeney is done. He seems hell-bent on making us prophetic.