If you want to know what was really going on in the brief but very intense fight between SEIU and AFSCME over the right to represent thousands of childcare workers, read this.
For a while last week, Illinois was home to the kind of union-against-union labor war that America hasnâ€™t seen since American Federation of Labor (AFL) unions and Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) unions used to clobber each other while fighting for new members, in the days before the two federations merged 50 years ago.
Hundreds of organizers from both the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) were pounding on doors in rival efforts to persuade the stateâ€™s 48,000 child-care workers to vote to join their respective unions. What made the campaign exceptional, however, was that the SEIU was able to enlist hundreds of additional organizers from other unions to pound the pavement on its behalf. […]
Indeed, the unionsâ€™ interventions only make sense in the context of the civil war now enveloping American labor. The unions that sided with the SEIU in Chicago are the same unions that sided with the SEIU at the AFL-CIO executive-council meeting in Las Vegas earlier this month in its battle against the administration of AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. Conversely, AFSCME is Sweeneyâ€™s biggest supporter. The relationships among AFSCME and the SEIU and its allies were already strained before AFSCMEâ€™s late-in-the-game decision to contest SEIUâ€™s multiyear campaign for the right to represent the child-care workers. Coming as it did less than three weeks before workers were to start voting, and on the eve of what was clearly going to be a highly contentious executive-council meeting in any event, AFSCMEâ€™s entry to the fray set off fireworks in Vegas, with SEIU President Andy Stern and AFSCME President Gerald McEntee engaging in several shouting matches and with Stern trying to get Sweeney to persuade the federation to call AFSCME off.
This is an excellent article that even delves into a bit of Illinois politics.