For immediate release:                                     July 28, 2003
For more information, contact Ken Little 253-576-8950
Pat Meyer 269-998-4609        Steve Zeltzer 415-867-0628

Rank and File Workers to Challenge AFL-CIO Executive Council

CHICAGO ­ When the AFL-CIO Executive Committee meets at the Drake Hotel
beginning on August 5, a group of rank-and-file union members will attempt
to address the gathered labor leaders. The union members bring a list of
questions and grievances that may cause the assembled union presidents
considerable embarrassment.

Since the disclosure last year that some of the union presidents meeting
this week in Chicago enriched themselves by insider stock trading through
the union-controlled Union Labor Life Insurance Company, the AFL-CIO has
been under pressure from many of its members to become more accountable to
the working men and women who pay union dues. While some of the
stock-trading union presidents have returned the profits from their insider
trading, the AFL-CIO Ethical Practices Committee has yet to act on the
corruption scandal.

Also at issue is the practice by most AFL-CIO unions of electing their top
officers by delegates at periodic conventions, rather than by the union
members themselves. This has repeatedly been found to strangle democracy
within unions. When federal judges, acting on Justice Department
initiative, have moved to eliminate the presence of racketeers and mobsters
in corrupt unions, they have insisted upon direct member elections of top
officers as a path to democratizing labor organizations. Yet most unions
continue to utilize the often-abused delegate convention elections.

Rank-and-file union members have several key questions they will try to get
answered by their leaders, if the leaders will hear them. Why do the unions
spend millions on organizing, yet represent only 13 per cent of the
nation's work force? Why has the AFL-CIO refused to fight for the nine
million Americans who are unemployed? Why has the AFL-CIO failed to win a
single piece of pro-worker legislation in decades, despite millions of
dollars spent each year? Why are the AFL-CIO web sites, closed to postings
by dues-paying members?

The Rank and File AFL-CIO Reform Movement, which represents union auto
workers, teamsters, hotel workers, carpenters, laborers, garment workers,
machinists, hospital workers, postal workers and others, plans to address
these issues and more if the AFL-CIO Executive Committee will meet with
them. Whether or not the Executive Committee accepts the offer to meet, the
Reform Movement will conduct an informational picket at the Drake Hotel
beginning at 9 AM on Tuesday, August 5, to inform Chicago workers and the
public about the issues of democracy, accountability and corruption within
American Labor Movement.

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