UNITED BROTHERHOOD OF CARPENTERS AND JOINERS OF AMERICA
Douglas J. McCarron
March 29, 2001
John Sweeney; President
American Federation of Labor
Congress of Industrial Organizations
815 16th Street N.W.
Washington D.C. 20006
Dear President Sweeney:
Thank you and Secretary- Treasurer Trumka for coming to meet with Our General officers and Executive Board to make your case for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters continued affiliation to the national AFL-CIO. The sincerity of your belief in the need to resolve this issue was readily apparent to all present.
As you well know our union has undertaken a long and difficult program of reorganization and restructuring. The sole purpose of this effort has been to develop an effective organizing structure which accurately reflects the current conditions or Our industry and is able to help members and non-members alike improve their wages and working conditions.. To this end we have allocated more than 5O% of our financial resources to organizing; hired more than 600 organizers; built the new international training facility you toured to give our members the skills they need; and moved decision making from our headquarters into the field where organizing really takes place.
During all of these efforts, which mirror the goals you have set for the AFL-CIO itself, we have remained hopeful that you would be successful in your efforts to implement similar changes. Clearly you have made real progress in generating greater public awareness of the Labor Movement and an increased presence in the political arena. Unfortunately, despite the strong words and good intentions, the more fundamental changes have not been addressed. The AFLCIO continues to operate under the roles and procedures of an era that passed years ago, while the industries that employ our members change from day to day.
When we agreed to your request and extended the invitation for you and Secretary- Treasurer Trumka to meet with our Executive Board, it was my hope that you would take the opportunity to address these issues directly. I was disappointed that your statement to our Board merely reiterated the positions you took in your earlier letters to me and the AFL-CIO affiliates. This
was an opportunity for a substantive discussion of the systemic problems which afflict the operations of the federation. I deeply regret that we were not able to have that discussion, I believe that both you and Secretary-Treasurer Trumka recognize, and are personally committed to, the need for real change at the AFL-CIO. And I am fully aware of the obstacles you face in trying to reform an affiliate organization like the federation. Six years ago, when we began the restructuring of our Brotherhood, the changes we had to make were just as profound and the institutional inertia was as strong. But our obligation was to working carpenters, not to an institutional structure, and we made the changes that needed to be made.
After five years I have seen nothing to indicate the AFL-CIO is seriously considering changes that would cure these problems, nor do I see any realistic chance that An investment of more time or resources by the UBC will alter those facts. And for that reason the General Executive Board of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters has voted unanimously to end our affiliation with the AFL-CIO.
This has been a difficult decision taken only after much thought and deliberation, I want to be
very clear that this is not a case of "taking our ball and going home" as some have claimed. we leave not because of what has been done, but what has not been done. While we are committed to moving forward, implementing our program of organizing and growth, we also hope that the AFL-CIO will be able to resolve its internal conflicts and move forward as well. And it is our hope that in the interim we can maintain an open and cordial relationship at the national as well as at the state and local level.
Yesterday, Secretary - -Treasurer Trumka made the point that the UBC helped build the framework for the labor movement and said that he couldn't imagine a progressive growing labor movement
without the Carpenters. That is a role of which our Union is justly proud.
We believe that we are building a new framework for our union. one that will accommodate all the men and women working at our trade. We believe this is the essence of truly progressive trade unionism, and essential to its growth. It is in that spirit that we move forward, and in that spirit we will always be part of the labor movement. Even though we are ending our affiliation to AFL-CIO, our commitment to the goals of the Labor Movement and our willingness to work with you, where we can be effective remains unchanged.
Douglas J. McCarron
cc: AFL-CI0 Executive Council
Governingboard ofPresidents, BCTD