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Date: Sat, 19 Sep 98 20:25:04 CDT
From: Labor Video Project <lvpsf@igc.apc.org>
Subject: AFL-CIO leader's partnership with GE CEO
Organization: ?
Article: 43587
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.20787.19980921121635@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/* Written 11:17 PM Sep 17, 1998 by leah@labornotes.org in igc:labr.newsline */
/* ---------- "Labor Notes exposes AFL partnership" ---------- */

Which side is John Sweeney on? Labor Notes exposes AFL-CIO leader's partnership with GE CEO

By Leah Samuel, in Labor Notes
17 September 1998

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Despite his stated support for unions fighting employers like UPS, Northwest Airlines, General Motors and US West, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney is planning top-level private meetings with one of corporate America's most anti-worker CEOs, General Electric's Jack Welch. Greatly revered by corporate America, Welch acquired the nickname of "Neutron Jack" with his success at getting rid of employees.

In the October issue of Labor Notes, Jane Slaughter writes that Sweeney and Welch are planning a "leadership dialogue" between union leaders and corporate heads. Sweeney has never made a secret of his preference for labor-management cooperation over militancy. But it is ironic that he has chosen as his main collaborator a CEO whom one local union president at GE called "the poster child of corporate greed in America."

Joining Sweeney and Welch is Ed Fire, president of the International Union of Electronic Workers (IUE), which represents workers at GE. "The individuals who run these corporations are not bad people," says Fire. "I've met with Jack Welch and Jack Smith [of General Motors]. They're not evil ogres."

But General Electric's plant closings and international transfers of factories have cut the company's percentage of unionized workers to 25 percent this year, down from 39 percent in 1991. Also, plans for a massive unionizing campaign at GE, announced earlier this year, have been placed on hold. Former AFL-CIO organizing director Richard Bensinger, who has since been fired, had announced that organizing drive.

Plans for the Sweeney-Welch meetings had been kept hush-hush, with an AFL-CIO spokesperson telling Labor Notes that it is "unfortunate" that word of the dialogue had leaked.

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