Last week, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the nation’s largest union of public sector workers, kicked off its 45th annual convention in Philadelphia. By most accounts, it was a largely tame affair, padded with presentations on the union’s history and peppered with appearances from AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. The bulk of the agenda was focused on the business of discussing and voting upon a series of resolutions on a variety of issues, and that’s where things got spicy. The convention brought together delegates from AFSCME locals around the country, and while it’s unsurprising that people representing such a wide range of identities, industries, political views, and personal experiences would find areas of disagreement, there was one resolution in particular that caused a considerable commotion: Resolution #26.
By Warren Heyman & Andrew Tillett-Saks for Jacobin. Democrats have historically been the grudging partners of the labor movement, the more willing of the two major political parties to make concessions when pressured. Labor has thus often taken a more thoughtful and calculating approach to neoliberal Democrats, recognizing their distinct interests but maneuvering strategically at arm’s length to partner when possible. The AFL-CIO’s decision to wait to endorse Clinton until she defeated Bernie Sanders is an example of this more clear-eyed calculation. By contrast, the breakaway caucus unions represent a new way of dealing with these types of politicians, shifting from strategic alliances to sycophantic servitude. In pledging allegiance to Clinton so immediately and so fervently, the four breakaway unions appear to have lost the ability to identify labor’s own interests and enemies.