President Hahs statement on withdrawal from AFL-CIO

Move will help labor become bigger, strong

As President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the founding member of the Teamsters' Rail Conference, I respect the decision of General President Hoffa and the Teamsters General Executive Board to disaffiliate from the AFL-CIO.

It was a difficult decision and was not made lightly. Some nine months of failed negotiations between Change to Win and AFL-CIO representatives went into the decision. Change to Win believes labor must organize more members and grow the labor movement. Change to Win also requested several AFL-CIO constitutional changes. AFL-CIO was not willing to make the requested changes.

I was present at the July 20 meeting in Chicago when, subsequent to a thorough report from the IBT's Change to Win negotiators, the GEB unanimously authorized General President Hoffa to withdraw from the AFL-CIO if no agreement was reached.

The need to organize now is greater than ever before. We must regain labor's influence in Washington by increasing our membership. One of the main reasons for disaffiliation was to spend more money on organizing. In the rail industry alone, more than 40,000 unorganized workers toil in the short line industry. As evidenced by the recent Presidential election, our best monetary efforts sometimes fall short simply because we're don't have enough labor votes. Organized labor must organize the unorganized and get bigger and stronger. Labor money without labor votes cannot change the outcome of elections.

That's part of our reason for affiliating with the Teamsters nearly two years ago. Our members voted by an overwhelming 81 percent to join the Teamsters. Our members wanted to become part of the largest and most powerful transportation union in the world. They wanted to get bigger and stronger with more political influence, and that's what we have today.

The National Division is asking its General Committees of Adjustment, State Legislative Boards and Divisions to continue their participation with State and Local AFL-CIO bodies, to the extent that the AFL-CIO will allow. The National Division intends to continue as an active member of the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department, to the extent that the AFL-CIO will allow.

While this decision may be hard for many of our members to accept, hopefully the future will prove it to be beneficial to our current and future members as well as the entire labor movement.


© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen