Sweeney extends deadline for breakaway unions

The AFL-CIO has reached an agreement in principle over terms for local unions affiliated with the Change to Win (CTW) federation to join AFL-CIO state federations and central labor councils via Solidarity Charters and enjoy full voting and participation rights.

“I am pleased to report that we have made progress in our discussions with the Change to Win unions concerning the terms of the Solidarity Charter Program,” AFL-CIO President John Sweeney told delegates attending the 49th convention of the Oregon AFL-CIO on Oct. 17. “With respect to the two major issues remaining, the AFL-CIO has agreed that members from CTW unions who have Solidarity Charters may run for and hold office in the state and central bodies; and for their part, the CTW unions have agreed with the concept of paying for cost-sharing at the national level to support the work of the state federations and central labor councils, with the understanding that it remains to negotiate a mutually-acceptable method of payment. Further discussions are being scheduled to finalize details.”

The AFL-CIO is currently processing Solidarity Charter applications from interested CTW local unions. If accepted, Solidarity Charters will operate on a year-to-year basis.

Sweeney said the deadline for reaching final terms of an agreement has been extended to Nov. 15, 2005.

“In the meantime,” Sweeney said, “the AFL-CIO will not object to members of CTW locals that intend to apply for Solidarity Charters running for office in the state and central bodies in question.”

After its convention in July, the national AFL-CIO said that any union that disaffiliated would not be allowed to participate at any level of the AFL-CIO. But soon after that, the federation’s Executive Council announced a new program for “Solidarity Charters” that would allow disaffiliated unions from participating at state and local levels, but with many restrictions.

CTW leaders objected to the dues structures and limitations on leadership posts. A deadline of Oct. 16 was set, but that has since been extended.

“We’ve had positive discussions with the AFL-CIO and believe that both organizations are interested in reaching an agreement that allows all locals to work together in partnership in their communities,” said Anna Burger, chair of the Change To Win federation. “We are hopeful that an agreement will happen soon, especially now that the AFL-CIO recognizes the right of Change to Win members to run for and hold office in state and local bodies. We look forward to further productive discussions in the weeks ahead to resolve financial issues.”

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