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Resolutions & Amendments

33rd International Convention - Honolulu, HI (1998)

Building Union Strength in Pre-Collective Bargaining Law States

Resolution No. 60
33rd International Convention
August 24-28, 1998
Honolulu, HI


Over 90,000 AFSCME members, in twenty-one states, have built and are maintaining their union without the benefit of a state collective bargaining law guaranteeing them the right to unionize; and


Thirteen of our Councils, plus 82 unaffiliated local unions operate in this adverse environment, without union security, defending our members on the job; and


In the absence of a state statute, our interim goal has been to establish a legal framework containing some of the benefits of a state law, either by Executive Order of a Governor or by local ordinance; and


While fighting for better legal rights to unionize, our union structures have frequently become dependent on International Union subsidy, lacking the ability to operate self-sufficiently; and


In recent years anti-union forces have stepped up their hostility to the enactment of collective bargaining laws and ordinances, and the promulgation of Executive Orders, as exemplified by the lawsuit against the Maryland Executive Order filed by the State Chamber of Commerce and its counterparts in Baltimore and Washington, which, fortunately, was thrown out by unanimous vote of the Maryland Supreme Court; and


In spite of determined opposition, AFSCME has won the right to unionize for 150,000 central government workers in Puerto Rico, sustained it for 40,000 Maryland state employees, enhanced the labor relations policies covering 20,000 Missouri state employees, gotten local governments in Indiana, Utah and West Virginia to recognize the union, and in Washington County, Maryland and Kentucky to resume union recognition after having discontinued it; and


For most of our 90,000 members in states without collective bargaining laws, the immediate future holds little opportunity for a favorable change in the law, and we should adjust our strategy accordingly.


AFSCME's primary goal in jurisdictions without a prospect of favorable bargaining legislation shall be to build power in the workplace, sufficient to force employers to deal with the union even in the absence of legal compulsion to do so; and


The Union's resources in non-bargaining-law states shall be concentrated on jurisdictions, and units within jurisdictions, in which our members are committed to an achievable plan to build majority membership power; and


The International Union shall develop a program to train, and assist with organizing resources, the local unions and councils that make the commitment to change to organize along these lines.


Daniel P. Martinez, Vice President and Delegate
Kathy Ross, Secretary-Treasurer and Delegate
AFSCME Local 1550