The reformers in the AFL-CIO who were once the New Unity Partnership meet tomorrow to discuss whether running John Wilhelm against John Sweeney is the way to push forward their vision for the future of the federation:
Adding to the discord, the presidents of five unions – the service employees; the Teamsters; the laborers; the food and commercial workers; and the hotel, restaurant and apparel workers – plan to gather in Las Vegas on Monday to discuss whether to back a challenger to John J. Sweeney, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s president, in his bid for a new four-year term…Mr. Sweeney has raised the federation’s outlays on union organizing to $22.5 million, a $10 million increase. Mr. Stern and his allies had called for the federation to spend $65 million a year on organizing, and several of them complained that Mr. Sweeney’s changes did not go far enough. “There’s a chasm between what Sweeney proposed on organizing and what we’ve been pushing for,” said John W. Wilhelm, president of the hospitality division of Unite Here, which represents hotel, restaurant and apparel workers. “What Sweeney is doing is rhetoric, not substance.” The five union presidents who intend to meet in Las Vegas plan to discuss strategies to revive organized labor, and having Mr. Wilhelm run against Mr. Sweeney is one move they are considering. Several Wilhelm allies said that he would like to run, but that a big obstacle is that his support, at least for now, appears limited to unions representing less than 40 percent of the federation’s membership. The vote will take place in July at a convention in Chicago. Mr. Sweeney has said he has the race locked up, claiming support from unions with more than half the membership. Another factor likely to affect Mr. Wilhelm’s decision to run is whether the service employees leave the federation, a move that would greatly weaken his support.