Union Infighting Exposes Labor Rift
February 3, 2009
During a time when lobbying for the Employee Free Choice Act would otherwise be a paramount concern for big labor, the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times report that infighting within two unions is distracting from support of larger issues. UNITE HERE and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are each involved in highly publicized factional disputes between opposing groups of union officers. A large and well known local chapter of SEIU broke off from the organization last week to form a new union. The split, which occurred when the SEIU chapter barricaded itself in offices to prevent attempts by the parent organization to remove chapter officers, brought to a head a long running philosophical clash between the centralized expansionist goals of the main organization and the smaller scale management of local chapters. UNITE HERE is currently involved in a dispute on a larger scale. The union threatens to break apart at its core. Last week one group of executive committee members took a second group of executive committee members to court for allegedly violating the union’s constitution.
These disputes weaken and undermine any attempted concerted effort that unions can mount in favor of EFCA.