In my recent posts on the Wisconsin results and the dire crisis of organized labor, I argued among other things that unions must fight for the broad working class and not just their shrinking memberships if they’re ever going to turn things around. Some people who disagreed with me claimed that unions were already doing that. Example offered were the AFL-CIO’s Working America program the SEIU’s Fight for a Fair Economy. [Ed. note: I’d originally said that Working America was one word, a la high-tech branding, but it’s two. Sorry.]
So what are these things about? Veteran labor journalist Steve Early told me that the AFL-CIO’s WA scheme is a whole lot of nothing. Canvassers take down names and then—nothing. No organization, no meetings, no agenda, no consequences for anyone.
And a source (who must remain anonymous) with excellent intelligence on SEIU tells me that FFFE—which critics like to mock by calling it Fifi, much to the annoyance of its sponsors—is a “massively expensive boondoggle.” The union is spending scores of millions of dollars on a campaign with no agenda, no organization building, no “metrics” of success. Remember, this is a union that former president Andy Stern left a wreck—in debt, torn by internal conflict, its reputation severely damaged (see Early’s The Cost of Labor Civil War for details). And they’re spending big on a program that apparently has no imaginable payoff at all.
It would be nice if these folks used their considerable resources to organize and fight for stuff that matters. But they’re not.