The largest labor organizations in the country have formed a coalition to guide talks of a unified labor movement: the AFL-CIO and Change to Win, in addition to major affiliate unions and the unaffiliated National Education Association, today formed a National Labor Coordinating Committee, chaired by former Rep. David Bonior, whose name was once floated as a possible Labor secretary for President Obama, and who heads American Rights at Work, a labor action group that works with unions, federations, and other pro-labor groups on legislative and political initiatives (such as the Employee Free Choice Act). The AFL-CIO and Change to Win have been in talks about possible unification this year. Change to Win, led by Andy Stern of SEIU, split away from the AFL-CIO in 2005; Change to Win claims to represent six million workers, while the AFL-CIO claims to represent 11 million.
With a labor-friendly president in the White House and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, labor now finds itself acting as a major player in two massive legislative/lobbying efforts: the Employee Free Choice Act and health care reform. Bonior today implied that labor needs to unify if it wants to take advantage of its newfound position of power: "Recognizing the historic moment we face, the American labor movement must unify to restore the American dream for working families...A unified labor movement is the way to ensure that the vast majority of Americans who want a union are able to join one," he said in a written statement announcing the new coalition.