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May 16, 2005

UFCW International President Joe Hansen Statement on AFL-CIO Reform

Washington, DC – International President of United Food and Commercial Workers, Joe Hansen, today released the following statement on AFL-CIO Reform:

The UFCW joins today with the Laborers’ Union, SEIU, Teamsters, and UNITE HERE in rejecting the AFL-CIO Officers’ Proposal and in calling for genuine reform that will build worker power.

The AFL-CIO Officers’ Proposal continues the status quo, and does not provide for genuine reform to build worker power. The UFCW supports, and will work for, a unified labor movement, but unity must be based on a shared commitment to revitalize the movement to empower workers. Unity without purpose is meaningless.

The status quo will not stand. We must build a 21st century labor movement for a new generation of workers. We are proud of our past-American unions have brought generations of working families prosperity, opportunity, and dignity-but, we must change now to meet the challenges of a changing world.

Unrestrained corporate power operating in a global economy is attempting to strip workers of their voice in the workplace, the economic well-being of their families, and the integrity of their government. A growing labor movement that engages and organizes workers, according to where they work and the jobs they do, can create a powerful force to raise living standards, provide for secure health care and retirement, make government responsive, and restore the American dream for working families.

We must start by changing the structure of the AFL-CIO and redirecting the resources of the labor movement to build worker power. As the cornerstone of reform, organizing should be the focus of unions to increase the number of organized workers in their core jurisdictions. The percentage of organized workers in an industry or occupation is the foundation of worker power. The AFL-CIO should be structured to further core industry organizing.

Affiliated unions representing the majority of union members should play an expanded role in the leadership and direction of the Federation. To maximize the power of workers, the Federation should provide central coordination for multi-union bargaining and organizing.

Only a growing labor movement can give workers a stronger voice in politics, and elect a worker-friendly government at the federal, state, and local levels.