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Resolutions & Amendments

33rd International Convention - Honolulu, HI (1998)

Cooperative Strategic Organizing Program

Resolution No. 76
33rd International Convention
August 24-28, 1998
Honolulu, HI


The union’s power to promote the interests of the members—both in bargaining strength and political influence—is a function of our numbers, our unity and activism, and our relative strength in the particular public services, occupations and employers in which our members work; and


That relative strength is best measured by "union density"—the proportion of a workforce that is unionized; and


Union density has fallen in the economy as a whole, to 14.5% from twice that in two decades, and has stagnated in the public services and started to fall in some of them; and


We are under attack, simultaneously, on two fronts, the privatization movement and the "paycheck protection" movement; both aimed at undermining the union’s ability to defend the membership; and


The anti-labor political forces which fostered "paycheck protection," have also focused on opposition to public employee collective bargaining legislation in the states, and with their recently achieved legislative majorities, have largely cut off what was the historic engine of AFSCME growth—new bargaining laws; and


AFSCME’s membership growth has halted since 1995, and, in recognition of these trends, the 1996 Convention mandated the establishment of a Task Force on the Future to review the union’s overall strategy; and


The Task Force has met and is recommending a new strategy for AFSCME growth.


That AFSCME establish a Cooperative Strategic Organizing Program, with the following major points:


  1. A commitment to organize the two million local, state and federal government workers who are covered by collective bargaining laws but are not represented by an AFL-CIO union.


  3. A commitment to follow our work to organize privatized public services workers whose employers jeopardize the standards we’ve attained for public service work by competing on the basis of low pay and benefits.


  5. A mandate to our councils and unaffiliated locals to create organizing programs, contributing not just resources but their superior ability to focus on the opportunities and challenges in their area.


  7. A renewed mandate to the International Union to pursue the enactment of additional collective bargaining laws, in targeted states, and to lead and manage the initial organizing drives under new bargaining laws.


  9. Dedication of new resources, contingent on an increase in per capita tax adopted at this convention, to build up the organizing capacity and effort of the whole union, through a Cooperative Strategic Organizing Program (CSOP), engaging affiliates in sound programs with the support of the International.


  11. Dedication of a stream of resources, the results of the organizing successes of the CSOP, back into the affiliates to further sustain their programs.


  13. Accepting a goal of organizing 75,000 new workers into our union by the year 2000, and acceptance by each affiliate of its share of the goal.


  15. Challenging the AFL-CIO to improve Article XX and XXI to assure that none of the new organizing resources, devoted by AFSCME or any other union, are wasted in competition for the same workers.


  17. Authorizing the IEB and its Committee on Organization to set standards for the CSOP, to promote the adoption of best practices in all AFSCME organizing programs, including use of member-organizers, of "rules" for successful campaigns, and of strategic targeting.


  19. Authorizing the International Union, through its various departments, to provide training, recruitment, and guidance to the affiliate programs.