It is unquestionable that the labor movement needed a serious overhaul. Certainly its structure and its methods, if not some of its objectives, have become so outdated that they have threatened to make the entire movement irrelevant. This week the overhaul began when the Service Employees International Union and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters announced that they were quitting the AFL-CIO. More will certainly follow. Here is the Chicago Tribune story on the breakup.
The ultimate ramifications of this realignment are yet to be seen. If the unions use this opportunity to really make themselves over from the top down and start addressing the real needs of the modern worker and seek to have a voice for working people both here and overseas, then this will undoubtedly be the best thing to happen to the labor movement in many a decade. Unfortunately, there is certainly a good chance that a power struggle between the unions will ensue, further weakening what is left of their political muscle and relevance. Here is a good story on the possible ramifications of the split from the Washington Post. And here is an op-ed piece by Robert Kuttner at the Boston Globe.