Yesterday, I suggested that the delegates need to be told specifics about the money issue. My friend and UAW union brother, Steve Yokich, made a legitimate case (in the comments section) that the Federation should wait. Here's why I still believe it's time to face up to it now.
Steve says: "I think that the reaction should come after we see who's in and who's out and what kind of deal is struck with the unions that owe dues for the last two months. Better to know the numbers that you are working with than to guess at them."
Today, the delegates know that the Federation will have $20 million less--and it's probably a safe bet that things will get worse. It has nothing to do with what the SEIU and Teamsters owe--we're talking operating budgets into the future. There will already be a debate about whether to make the 8 cents temporary per capita increase a permanent part of the per capita. So, why not have an honest discussion? Don't just ask the delegates to agree to sign off on a permanent future commitment to the Federation. Give the delegates a bigger picture of the financial future.
Before I go here, I thought people would like to actually see the budget of the AFL-CIO. I had obtained this some time ago but didn't post it. I think it's worth understanding where the money goes and what might suffer--and I think that's the right of each delegate in the hall to understand.
I'm not suggesting that John Sweeney or Rich Trumka get into a specific line-by-line discussion of the budget and where it might be cut. And, certainly, there shouldn't be any open discussion about staff cuts before sitting down with the Newspaper Guild and its other unions--the previous cuts and reorganization were badly handled, in my humble opinion.
But, at the end of the convention, delegates should be able to walk out of the hall with at least a general sense of what is to come: will there be a special convention called to push for an even bigger per capita increase? Or are there deep cuts in the Federation's operations on the horizon? And, I think the Federation staff should be clued in early on so they aren't coming to work everyday with a black cloud overhead, wondering what's being cooked up in Bob Welsh's office.
This is the big elephant in the room--and it has to be noticed before it leaves a huge dump for affiliates and central labor bodies to clean up.