For Immediate Release
Contact: Lane Windham (202) 637-5018
Top AFL-CIO Leaders Forge New Ground in Organizing and Fighting for Working Families' Top Priorities in Meeting Today
AFL-CIO Executive Council Announces Formation of First Industry Coordinating Committee Covering the
Arts, Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Industries
United Transportation Union to Rejoin AFL-CIO
(Washington, October 6) -- The 46-member AFL-CIO Executive Council, meeting for the first time today since the federation's July convention, acted on one of the most sweeping reforms included in the AFL-CIO Winning for Working Families plan by announcing a request by 10 unions in the Arts, Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications industries to create a new Industry Coordinating Committee (ICC). The ICC will build more power for workers in these industries in the face of rapid media consolidation and massive technological shifts. The creation of the new ICC is subject to the approval of the leadership groups of each of the 10 individual unions. The ICC is the first announced since the convention, which drew up plans for ICCs to bring together unions that represent workers in an industry, employer, occupation, or region and develop an organizing plan as well as contract standards.
"Those professionals who work in the arts, entertainment, media and telecommunications industries need a strong, united effort to address their issues in the face of ownership consolidation and unprecedented changes -- and today, they're one big step closer to winning more power," said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. "The AFL-CIO is 100% committed to supporting efforts to help the millions of workers in these industries improve their lives through unions."
"For the first time, all of the major AFL-CIO unions in these sectors will work together to devise joint organizing and collective bargaining strategies in conjunction with their long-standing collaborative work on legislation and public policy," said Paul Almeida, President of the federation's Department for Professional Employees.
The Arts, Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications ICC will build power for working people in this industry by undertaking collaborative initiatives in four principal areas -- organizing, collective bargaining, contract standards and public policy. The 10 unions that are part of the new ICC are: Actors' Equity Association (AEA), American Federation of Musicians (AFM), American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Communications Workers of America (CWA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET-CWA), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), The Newspaper Guild (TNG-CWA) and the Writers Guild of America East (WGAE). Combined, these unions represent nearly one million workers in these sectors.
In other news, the AFL-CIO Executive Council approved a charter for the 60,000 member United Transportation Union (UTU) to rejoin the AFL-CIO. It is the first union officially to join the AFL-CIO since the federation's convention in July.
The Executive Council heard a report on continuing efforts to keep the grassroots labor movement intact following the disaffiliation of a number of unions. They discussed ongoing negotiations with the disaffiliated unions over the terms of Solidarity Charters, a unique solution which allows locals who are part of disaffiliated unions to remain part of AFL-CIO state and local bodies. Four local unions - - SEIU Local 560 in New Hampshire, SEIU Local 52 in North Dakota, and SEIU Local 513 in Kansas, and ICWUC - UFCW Local 427C in North Carolina - - have all been awarded Solidarity Charters, and several dozen local unions are actively considering applying for such charters.
The Council approved criteria for awarding support from a new solidarity fund set up at the convention t 1) state federations and central labor councils who could realize a loss of membership; 2) national unions who could face raids by independent unions, and 3) trade and industrial departments who would see a loss of affiliates. The Council adopted a resolution calling for increased affiliation among AFL-CIO unions with state and local bodies.
The Council also reviewed federation finances and budget options following the disaffiliations; the Executive Committee, which has decision-making authority over the budget, will consider a revised budget this Fall.
The Executive Council discussed its new national campaign -- Rebuild America: Good Jobs and a Just Economy -- an action plan to push for investment in the right priorities in New Orleans and the nation in the wake of the Katrina catastrophe. The plan calls for good jobs, transparency and accountability in the efforts to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and also lays out a campaign for standing up for good jobs, health care and other working family priorities across the nation. Unions reported on the massive union efforts to get both immediate and long-term aid to Katrina survivors and the Gulf. A full description of union relief efforts can be found at http://www.aflcio.org/aboutus/katrina_news.cfm.
The union leaders also pledged to support a massive mobilization to defend workers' freedom to form unions on December 10, International Human Rights Day; reviewed the union grassroots mobilization in the California, New Jersey, and Virginia elections and discussed next steps in diversifying union leadership at all levels.
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