WASHINGTON - August 11 - AFL-CIO President John Sweeney announced a new proposal to help unite the grassroots power of the union movement through innovative Solidarity Charters for locals of recently disaffiliated unions. He is asking members of the AFL-CIO Executive Council to approve this plan.
“It’s not these locals’ fault that their national unions left the AFL-CIO, and it’s not working people’s fault. They shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of a decision by their leadership,” said Sweeney. “Solidarity Charters will allow unions to work together and let working people still benefit from a united grassroots movement that works for good jobs, health care, and a voice in issues that matter to them.”
The AFL-CIO came up with the Solidarity Charters after locals of disaffiliated unions contacted the national AFL-CIO over the weeks since its convention and expressed a desire to remain in the AFL-CIO at the local level. The AFL-CIO Constitution is clear that if a union leaves the national AFL-CIO, they also leave the AFL-CIO at the local level. Two weeks ago, delegates to the AFL-CIO convention discussed the need to find a creative solution to support the grassroots labor movement.
“These Solidarity Charters will allow unions in New York to continue to work together and maintain a united front to fight for working people’s issues,” said Denis Hughes, President of the New York State AFL-CIO. “I’m pleased that our locals have this unique option.”
Under the new Solidarity Charters, if a local union of a disaffiliated union wants to be part of a united local movement in their city and state, they can apply to be part of the central labor council (clc) or state federation. They will sign up with the same level of membership they had before their union left the AFL-CIO, or sign up at the average membership level for that city or state, whichever is higher. They will also pay a 10 percent solidarity fee to the labor council or state federation to help offset the cost of services and mobilization systems provided by the national AFL-CIO and supported by its affiliated unions. The solidarity fee will go into the Solidarity Fund established at the convention that help support local bodies affected by the unions’ decision to leave the Federation.
Locals who receive Solidarity Charters will need to honor basic principles of solidarity. They will agree not to raid their brother and sister unions, participate fully in the local political mobilization efforts, and support other working people in their area who are on strike, organizing, or in other struggles. Unions will have the same voting rights as other locals—except that members of unions with a Solidarity Charter can’t hold top offices, except that individuals already in office can finish out their terms.
The Executive Council is expected to finish deciding whether to approve the Solidarity Charters within the next several days, and they could become effective in September.
Local unions who are part of the Teamsters, UFCW, SEIU and Carpenters are all eligible for Solidarity Charters.