• Share
  • Read Later
A day after he defeated Thomas Donahue to take control of the AFL-CIO, John Sweeney virtually blocked traffic on Eighth Avenue in New York City's Garment District, leading a rally of nearly 2,000 workers and denouncing "greedy employers" who are holding wages down. As an outsider in the historically closed circle of AFL-CIO leadership, Sweeney's challenge will be to revive a union that has been in steady decline for the past five years, says New York bureau chief John Moody. "His great strength is that he is not associated with the leadership of the union under former president Lane Kirkland. Sweeney has for the moment pumped life into the labor movement, but it remains to be seen how to continue to do so over the long term. He's got a lot of things to deal with: the Caterpillar strike, the Boeing strike, the Detroit newspapers strike. He's really got to produce in those negotiations in order to revive the union." Moody notes that one way Sweeney has promised to shake things up is to spend up to 20 percent of the union budget on recruitment efforts. "This is a huge increase in spending, and ironically for a labor union, it puts Sweeney in the position where he might have to lay off some of the union's administration to pay for this."