|SEIU's Mary Kay Henry and AFSCME's Lee Saunders|
Delegates to AFSCME’s international convention in Las Vegas (July 18-22) approved a resolution to form “unity partnerships” with SEIU and to explore a full-blown merger with the purple union, according to a newsletter distributed to convention delegates.
In May, delegates to SEIU’s international convention approved an identical resolution.
On July 20, delegates to AFSCME's convention followed suit by approving Resolution 53: “AFSCME and SEIU: Unstoppable Unions that Never Quit.”
The AFSCME resolution generated some controversy among convention delegates.
For example, AFSCME Local 2507 (New York) reports it was “not happy” with the language in line 63 of the resolution (on third page), which directs AFSCME to explore “an institutional merger” with SEIU. Local 2507 tried to remove this language at the committee level, “but did not have enough support to remove said language.”
The now-approved resolution paves the way for a full-blown merger while immediately calling for the establishment of “unity partnerships” between the two unions at local, state, and national levels to carry out joint planning, organizing, bargaining, and political work.
According to the resolution, the “unity partnerships” are supposed to carry out the following kinds of activities:
joint goal setting and planning; joint bargaining and representational activities where we have a common employer and coordinated bargaining where we represent workers in the same industry and labor market; joint setting of priorities and strategies where we deal with the same legislative and/or administrative bodies; joint political activity where we share an interest in electoral outcomes; and joint communication, legal, mobilization and research strategies and activities to support our work
A full-blown merger “must be recommended by both International Executive Boards and shall be submitted to a vote in accordance with each union’s constitution and bylaws” …although it’s unclear who would participate in such a vote.