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The AFL-CIO – Victims or Warriors?

Thursday November 13, 2014 was a night of expectations of what was hoped would be a spirited discussion by a panel lead by AFL-CIO President Trumka entitled – Whither the Labor Movement? The Future of American Labor Unions. It was held by the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics – which was home to free market economist “extraordinaire” Milton Friedman. (Sarcasm)

After the butt kicking in the mid-terms, expectations were high that a defiant Trumka would show up!

Here is a link to the entire evening discussion for you to judge for yourself:

Well that didn’t happen what-so-ever and the discussion was close to void on the stated topic which was the Future of Labor Unions. Speakers Trumka & Gerard defaulted to legislative activities and a boat load of “we need” statements with lots of statistics. Statements that labor is the VICTIM of the NLRB, politicians and big business, which while true, do not in and of themselves account for Labors low numbers. There were the typical rah rah statements and applause lines on the need for labor unions in America.  Eliseo was the only speaker with structure to his comments that had some semblance of edge to them.

Big business is doing what they have always done in America – flexing their muscles in buying the best Congresses along with all the anti-union legislation they can. THEY ARE DOING THEIR JOB! It is to stop Labor at all times – what is new or surprising about that? Labor acting as a victim is at the root of why the American Labor movement has retreated – this and just a little thing like a substantial lack of LEADERSHIP!

I remember Mr. Tumka when he was a Miner saying that the only thing in Washington where – old men in suits.

Where are our Labor Warriors?

Nowhere in the prepared discussion was any role and use of 21st Century social media, we are now in the end of 2014 and the combined AFL-CIO has yet to trend a single Tweet and leverage it on behalf of workers issue.

No discussion of using our Army of members to shape markets as a sales engine, and using the 21st Century version of “punish your enemies & reward your friends”. Structured and connected social signals can take a company, big or small, and bring them to their knees with the proper mix of opposition research and aggressive and targeted use of social signals.

Never have businesses been more vulnerable to attacks on their carefully scripted perceptions they have created than now, with social media. We need to do our homework, show them for what they are, and engage an inside kitty of 12 million members as an opening bid to derail businesses and engage working Americans directly with social media. That would then target earnings, investors and clients and totally change the dynamics of Fortune 500 companies.

The AFL-CIO is clearly not up to par in their aggressive outbound use of Twitter, You Tube, mass texting, etc… and in co-coordinating  the affiliates in bringing to bear huge amounts of pressure on big business and anti-worker political initiatives.

Job one in the era of communication is connecting some 12 million members social signals which are a powder keg of power when properly harnessed & can be leveraged from there. It is the currency of the time.

Consider the Fight for $15 – raising the minimum wage, which passed in red and blue states.

Founded in November 2012, the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago (WOCC) is a union of fast food and retail workers pushing for better conditions in their industries.

Soon there-after the SEIU also got involved and by the mid-terms (November 2014), minimum wage initiatives where on state ballots which were adopted by voters.

Warriors taking to the streets along with the use of aggressive and structured social media have produced wins on this front. These strategies properly executed and with no warnings to those fast food franchises created uncertainty and very bad public relations, as the under-belly of abused workers found their way to mainstream America.

Even right wing states react to having to subsidize massive corporations with taxes to support workers.

The panel also had little acknowledgement of the real time virtual unions that are forming in some sectors. WOCC is an example – the speakers played that off that they are “in contact” with them and left the impression that it will be just fine.

So with just 11% total union market share and 7% in private sector belonging to traditional unions, virtual unions could potentially eclipse that market share and render the AFL-CIO irrelevant in a heartbeat.

 “labor creates its visions in the streets – not in the offices”

The generations behind us baby boomers have a completely different approached to how unions should operate. They are going to find their own path to social justice and the promise of a CBA. Us old guys need to come to terms with that ASAP – we are no longer in control – the workers are!

 “if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising Group

Trumka 11-14 U of C 018

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