John Sweeney’s Exit Strategy?

By October 22, 2006Labor Unions

Some labor skates are buzzing with speculation that the incredible shrinking AFL-CIO President John Sweeney (“Pyrrhus” to us) may have found his exit strategy. As many of you know, he has since 1994 promised to “take back the House” for the Democrats, pouring hundreds of millions of his members’ hard-earned dues money down the rat hole, whether or not they agreed with him. Time and time again, he’s been unsuccessful, squandering ever greater sums in each election cycle.

But now as he begins to taste victory for the Dems next month, we are hearing from sources inside the labor camp that the 72-year-old Sweeney may indeed declare victory and get out, “Even if [he] had nothing to do with it,” as one insider wrote to us. This may be real, it may be hope, not sure. Said our source, “Some even speculate that, with him gone from the scene, this ridiculous bifurcation of labor, AFL-CIO vs. Change to Win, can come to an end.”

There’s no doubt that Sweeney presided over the split in the AFL-CIO, a feat none of his predecessors could manage. And he’s presided over a steady decline in membership. Any other CEO would have long since been shown the door with performance like this. It just may be that after years of dismal failure, he’s stumbled upon his exit strategy after all.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • It would be indeed very interesting if Sweeney left, as it would likely put the AFL-CIO into a further tailspin. Here’s why:
    There is no apparent successor to Sweeney…Although three possibles come to mind:
    Richard Trumka–Problem is, as Sweeney’s #2, Trumka has helped the AFL-CIO slide further into oblivion and is very divisive.
    Linda Chavez-Thompson–If she were to succeed Sweeney, it would upset Trumka, as well as all of the other old, white males who sit on the E-Council.
    Larry Cohen–The CWA loyalist could be a possible candidate, but he’s new to the AFL-CIO EC and hasn’t paid his proper homage to the likes of Buffenbarger, et al.
    Last point: If Sweeney does leave, it will only cause more unions to jump ship over to the Change to Whiners (C2W)…Operating Engineers and IBEW, perhaps.

  • The problem for Sweeney (and the rest of the AFL-CIO unions, for that matter) is the power struggle that will result from his departure. There are no visionary leaders of the remaining AFL-CIO unions. Two likely successor-candidates would be Trumka or the CWA’s Larry Cohen. Trumka would be the likely pick, but his divisiveness would further divide the AFL-CIO, potentially causing more to jump ship and join the Change to Whine federation. Plus, Trumka presided (along with Sweeney) during these 12 years of abysmal leadership. Cohen may be seen as “new blood,” but guys like the IAM’s Buffenbarger may seem as not having paid his dues (so tp speak) on the Exec. Council. Frankly, talk of Sweeney’s departure may be a bit too premature. However, if it happens, Stern & the Gang at C2W will be poised to reap the benefits.

  • Daniel Rueda says:

    Maybe with some new blood the labor unions will start a global union website. A myspace for the Labor Movement. Since 1999 the founder has had a dream to unite the world. No Strategic organization of labor can exist without a one strategic location on the internet.
    Epicenter of Labor.