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Largest Union Gets OK to Quit AFL-CIO

June 12, 2005|From Associated Press

The board of the nation's largest labor union gave its leadership the authority Saturday to break away from the AFL-CIO, citing a "fundamental and apparently irreconcilable disagreement" over how to rebuild the ailing labor movement.

Meeting in San Francisco, the executive board of the 1.8-million-member Service Employees International Union authorized its executive committee to decide whether and when to disaffiliate from the AFL-CIO, though no decision has been made about whether SEIU will leave the federation, said spokesman Ben Boyd.

The board said it acted after executive boards of local unions representing 70% of SEIU membership adopted resolutions authorizing its breakaway from the AFL-CIO, the national federation of more than 50 unions that was formed five decades ago.

"The union movement must focus on uniting with the nine out of 10 workers who have no union," the board said in a statement. "We cannot help workers make major advances in each industry as long as the AFL-CIO structure and rules condone and reward union strategies that divide workers' strength in each industry."

SEIU leaders have threatened to leave the AFL-CIO unless the federation commits to a dramatic reorganization.

The SEIU wants the AFL-CIO to cut its budget by more than 50% and use the savings to boost organizing by member unions.

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