BLET, Teamsters leave AFL-CIO

New Change to Win Coalition will devote millions of dollars to organizing

(BLET Editor's Note: Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa issued the following statement on July 25.)

Good afternoon. This is an historic day. I join my brother Andy Stern and the great SEIU in a joint announcement. I am here today to announce that the General Executive Board of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has unanimously voted to withdraw our membership from the AFL-CIO.

This decision has been reached through a lengthy and thoughtful process. It has been a difficult decision to make and we do not take this step lightly.

The Teamsters General Executive Board is directly elected by our 1.4 million members to chart the course of our great union. And after months of discussion and deliberation, we have made our decision as a matter of principle and have decided on a new course of action.

We submitted, in good faith, proposals to dramatically change the direction of the AFL-CIO to stem the losses that we have endured over the past decade. We proposed that the AFL-CIO embark on a new course of action that would not only protect our existing Teamster members and their families, but lead to thousands of new working men and women having the opportunity to organize into a strong union that would give them the chance to achieve the American dream - to own their own home, send their kids to college and plan a strong retirement.

In our view, we must have more union members in order to change the political climate that is undermining workers' rights in this country.

The AFL-CIO has chosen the opposite approach.

(The July 25) decision means that we have chosen a course of growth and strength for the American Labor Movement based on organizing new members. We have partnered with seven strong and progressive unions in the Change to Win coalition to organize the unorganized and create real power for the working families of America.

Earlier (on July 25) the leadership of the Change To Win coalition met with our respective organizing directors to set in motion a process of building larger scale strategic organizing capacity. This is just the beginning of a new era for America's workers.

And let me be clear, the Teamsters will remain the bulwark of the labor movement. Striking workers, no matter what union they belong to, can always count on the Teamsters for support and assistance. That is our history and tradition and we will never waiver from our proud role as defenders of America's working families.

We will continue to work with our brothers and sisters in the Building Trades, in State Federations and Central Labor Councils to achieve justice for all working people. But let me be clear, our coalition will not allow corporate America to pit one union against another to the detriment of our members and their families.

We wish our brothers and sisters that remain in the AFL-CIO the best of luck in their efforts. We pledge cooperation with the AFL-CIO on all the fronts that affect working families.


© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen