On Wednesday, September 11, the AFL-CIO convention concluded. Some of the resolutions that came out of this session seem to reflect labor realizing that the world around it has changed. As globalization and the power of multinational corporations grow and we see a American workforce that at its base may be made up of low-wage, low-benefit, service sector jobs, labor may be realizing that it needs to expand it's reach.
Resolution 16, calls for building relationships with non-labor organizations. This may be a return to the past bit, when labor unions were active parts of their community. We have seen efforts to do this at a small level with the coalitions that have been built in places like Wisconsin and North Carolina. The role that Pennsylvania's unions played in the May Voting Rights Rally, and event that also featured representatives from the NAACP and Sierra Club, among other groups. Also, building coalitions within communities, especially those of color, might lead to opportunities to organize.
The factory disaster in Bangladesh may have been a spark behind Resolution 8. A call to build ties between unions worldwide, one need only look at how many unions include 'international' in their name to see this. But as multinational corporations expand their reach, and seem to be involved in a 'race to the bottom', seeking nations or regions where the rights of workers are weakest, this effort may be among the most important.
The work of fast-food and retail workers, who tend to be younger, to demand better wages and benefits, might have led to Resolution 19. This resolution calls for expanding the role of younger workers within the AFL-CIO. This may also have a demographic component, as the industrial workers that have made up the base of the AFL-CIO age, a need to groom and ready a future generation to fight the new generation of robber barons like the Kochs and Waltons.
The "Moral Mondays" of North Carolina, may have been behind the AFL-CIOs Resolution 26, to develop a "Southern Strategy" of their own. These States make up a large block of the "right to work" States and also are where several of the most exploitative industries like poultry plants are often set up. These states are also become more diverse, as Latino populations grow in places like North Carolina and Georgia.
These are all areas where it might be said that the AFL-CIO may have been behind the curve a bit. One can hope that locals are ready and willing to make some of these resolutions into solutions.