In what is being reported as a surprise move, the 40,000 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) announced that they have formally ended their association with the AFL-CIO, one of the nation's largest private sector unions. The Longshoremen citied Obamacare and immigration reform as two important causes of their disaffiliation.
In an August 29 letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, ILWU President Robert McEllrath cited quite a list of grievances as reasons for the disillusion of their affiliation, but prominent among them was the AFL-CIO's support of Obamare.
"We feel the Federation has done a great disservice to the labor movement and all working people by going along to get along," McEllrath wrote in the letter to Trumka.
The ILWU President made it clear they are for a single-payer, nationalized healthcare policy and are upset with the AFL-CIO for going along with Obama on the confiscatory tax on their "Cadillac" healthcare plan.
The Longshoreman leader said, "President Obama ran on a platform that he would not tax medical plans and at the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention, you stated that labor would not stand for a tax on our benefits." But, regardless of that promise, the President has pushed for just such a tax and Trumka and the AFL-CIO bowed to political pressure lining up behind Obama's tax on those plans.
McEllrath also went on to say that they support stronger immigration reform than the AFL-CIO is supporting.
One ILWU committeeman was even harsher on both the AFL-CIO and the President. ILWU Coast Committeeman Leal Sundet criticized the AFL-CIO telling LaborNotes.comthat Trumka was marching "in lockstep" with Obama both on the "Cadillac healthcare tax" as well as immigration.
Sundet slammed Obama's immigration plan saying it is "designed to give [only] highly-paid workers a real path to citizenship."
Private sector unions have fallen to an all time low participation rate in the US workforce. Unionized workers now account for only 11.3 percent of the US workforce.