Change to Win Federation

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Change to Win Organizing Center
Change to Win SOC Logo.png
FoundedSeptember 27, 2005 (2005-09-27)
Headquarters1900 L Street, NW Suite 900 Washington, D.C., United States
3,463,611 (2016)[1]
Key people
James P. Hoffa, Chair

The Change to Win Organizing Center (CtW) is a coalition of American labor unions originally formed in 2005 as an alternative to the AFL-CIO. The coalition is associated with strong advocacy of the organizing model. The coalition currently consists of The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT); Service Employees International Union (SEIU); and United Farm Workers (UFW). Communications Workers of America (CWA) is affiliated with both the CtW[2] and AFL-CIO. CtW also includes CtW Investment Group, a shareholder engagement arm of CtW that challenges management of large, publicly traded companies targeted by CtW’s campaigns.

New Unity Partnership and formation of the federation[edit]

Membership (US records; ×1000)[3]

Finances (US records; ×$1000)[3]
     Assets      Liabilities      Receipts      Disbursements

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, labor union density (percentage of unionized American workers) was reaching a historic low point. From a high of over 30 percent in the 1950s, the proportion of American workers who were union members had plunged to 12 percent in the year 2000, and only 8 percent of private sector employees.

A reformist coalition led by John Sweeney, then president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), had taken over the helm of the AFL–CIO in 1995, but while the new regime was able to make some significant structural changes, they were not able to curtail the rapid decline of unions in the United States. In 2003, five unions joined together informally as the New Unity Partnership (NUP) to push for reform in the AFL-CIO and renewed effort to organize unorganized workers: The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) and Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) (later to merge to form UNITE HERE), the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) and the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA). The NUP had no formal structure but pushed for coordinated, industry-based organizing campaigns and additional emphasis on organizing.

Of the NUP members, the SEIU, with its president Andy Stern, was the most vocal proponent of change in the labor movement. (The current president is Mary Kay Henry.) At the union's 2004 convention, Stern declared that workers should reform the AFL-CIO or "build something stronger." Over the next year, a discussion of the labor movement's future ensued with a degree of openness that was unusual for the often cloistered labor movement.

In 2005, the NUP formally dissolved and its five member unions, along with the Teamsters Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), created a new coalition, Change to Win, which introduced a program for reform of the AFL-CIO.

The coalition was founded on two basic principles:

  • Working people, including current union members, cannot win consistently without uniting millions more workers in unions.
  • Every worker in America has the right to a union that has the focus, strategy, and resources to unite workers in that industry and win.

Among the coalition's proposals to achieve these objectives was encouraging unions to organize on an industry-wide basis, consolidating smaller unions within a few large unions, providing financial incentives to AFL-CIO member unions that channel resources to organizing new members and spending more money on organizing as opposed to electoral politics.

The new union's members were largely service sector unions which represented large numbers of women, immigrants and people of color, as opposed to the manufacturing unions which formed the basis of labor's strength for many years.

In July 2005, Change to Win elected SEIU secretary-treasurer Anna Burger as chair and UNITE HERE Executive Vice-President Edgar Romney as Treasurer.

Changes in federation membership[edit]

In the summer of 2009, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters disaffiliated from Change to Win.[4]

After a bitter and divisive internal battle, a third of the members of UNITE HERE left that union and joined SEIU. The remaining 265,000 members of UNITE HERE reaffiliated with the AFL-CIO on September 16, 2009.[5][6]

The Laborers' International Union of North America said it would also leave Change to Win and rejoin the AFL-CIO on August 13, 2010.[7] LIUNA officials did not immediately explain their reasons, but AFL-CIO officials said the reaffiliation would be formalized in October 2010.[7]

On August 8, 2013, the United Food and Commercial Workers announced that they would be leaving Change to Win and re-affiliating with the AFL-CIO.[8]

Possible reunification with the AFL-CIO[edit]

On January 9, 2009, national news media reported that the five of the seven CtW unions had met with seven of the largest unions in the AFL-CIO in talks which explored the possibility of the five CtW unions rejoining the larger labor federation.[9] Impetus for the talks came as the Obama administration signalled to both labor federations that it preferred to deal with a united rather than fragmented labor movement.[10] Also, several Change to Win unions also concluded that they were not getting any significant advantage from being in a separate labor federation, and that a fragmented labor union was doing more harm than good.[10][11] David Bonior, a former U.S. Congressman who once led the AFL-CIO's American Rights at Work division and who was a member of Barack Obama's presidential transition team, facilitated the meeting, and said talks were scheduled to last several weeks.[9][10][12] The five CtW unions present included the Laborers, SEIU, the Teamsters, UFCW, and UNITE HERE.[9] AFL-CIO unions present included AFSCME, the AFT, the Electrical Workers, the UAW, and the United Steelworkers.[12] Also in attendance was Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, which is independent and belongs to neither group.[10]

A number of major issues were discussed in the opening round of talks. One major point of discussion revolved around who would lead any reunited federation.[9] AFL-CIO President John Sweeney was widely expected to retire at the trade union center's August 2009 convention, and Laborer's president Terence O'Sullivan and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka had been discussed as his successors.[9][10][13] The nature of the AFL-CIO presidency was part of the leadership talks, with some unions suggesting that the presidency rotate among member unions while others hoped for a strong and vocal "executive director" position.[10] The two sides agreed that any reunited labor federation should have a stronger voice in national politics as well as have a greater say in helping member unions engage in more new member organizing.[10] The two sides also discussed whether to change the name of the AFL-CIO, or whether to adopt an entirely new organizational structure.[10] Among other issues discussed were: How the AFL-CIO/new organization would encourage new member organizing and at what level (national or local), what a reunited labor movement's political priorities should be, what sort of relationship a reunited labor movement will have with the Democratic and Republican parties, the level of member union dues, and globalization issues.[10][13] Although one news outlet reported that the 12 unions hoped to settle on a reunification agreement by April 15, 2009,[10] no issues were resolved in the first round of talks.[13]

The talks drew some limited criticism from members of the labor movement for not addressing issues of union democracy.[14]

Past campaigns[edit]

Change to Win has focused its resources on organizing workers into unions. This focus has been written into its governing documents, which require at least 75% of CtW's resources and budget to be allocated to organizing programs.

CtW and its affiliate unions have run several campaigns to organize workers in industries considered "core" to CtW unions. These campaigns are:

  • Make Work Pay: Make Work Pay is a general organizing campaign aimed at improving wages and working conditions for working people.
  • Justice at Smithfield: Organizes workers at Smithfield Foods pork-packing plants. Smithfield has been accused of human rights violations for its treatment of workers by international human rights group Human Rights Watch.
  • Wal-Mart Campaign: Organizes workers in Wal-Mart stores.
  • Driving Up Standards Together: Organizes school bus drivers and monitors across the country. An international campaign coordinated with the UK's Transport and General Workers Union (now part of Unite the Union).
  • Uniform Justice: Organizes employees of Cintas, North America's most profitable uniform and laundry company.
  • Cure CVS: Organizes CVS/Pharmacy and criticize its practices.

Current campaigns[edit]

Change to Win and its affiliate unions are running multiple campaigns at present, including:[15]

  • Justice for Port Truck Drivers: Justice for Port Truck Drivers is a campaign of over 75,000 truck drivers organizing for fairness in the port trucking industry by calling on elected government and port officials to enforce labor laws and to protect the public's interest.[16]
  • Good Jobs Nation: Good Jobs Nation is a campaign of low-wage workers who serve America through federal contracts, concessions and leases with private businesses.[17]
  • Fight for $15: A national campaign to organize fast food workers and raise the minimum wage.[18]
  • Calling Out T-Mobile: Calling Out T-Mobile's mission is to make the country's fastest growing cell service provider live up to the pro-consumer promises it has failed to fulfill.[19]
  • Coalition for Rights at Nissan: A campaign calling on Nissan to respect its workers' right to organize without intimidation, or fear of reprisal.[20]
  • Walgreens Gone Wrong: The mission of Walgreens Gone Wrong is to make the country's largest drugstore a better, more trustworthy place to shop and receive health services.[21][22]

Partner organizations[edit]

The Emerald Cities Collaborative is a partner organization with the Change to Win Federation.

CtW Investment Group is an affiliate that is co-located with the Change to Win Federation.[23][24] CtW Investment Group advances CtW organizing campaigns by filing shareholder resolutions and engaging shareholders of publicly traded companies to vote against management.[25][26] Examples of companies targeted include Amazon, McDonald's, Electronic Arts, and CVS Health.[27][28][29][30] While CtW Investment Group is cited in media reports as an investment adviser that works with union-backed pensions,[31][32] the group's website says it does not provide investment advice or act as a fiduciary for any pension funds.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-385. Report submitted March 31, 2017.
  2. ^ Change to Win Website, July 2017
  3. ^ a b US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-385. (Search)
  4. ^ MacGillis, Alec. "For Unions, A Time of Opportunity and Worry." The Washington Post. September 15, 2009.
  5. ^ Greenhouse, Steven. "Union Rejoining A.F.L.-C.I.O." New York Times. September 17, 2009.
  6. ^ Stutz, Howard. "Culinary Parent UNITE HERE Rejoins AFL-CIO, Ending Four-Year Separation." Las Vegas Review-Journal. September 18, 2009.
  7. ^ a b "Construction Workers' Union to Rejoin A.F.L.-C.I.O." Associated Press. August 14, 2010.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-08-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ a b c d e Maher, Kris. "AFL-CIO, Breakaway Unions Discuss Reuniting." Wall Street Journal. January 9, 2009.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Greenhouse, Steven. "Labor Calls for Unity After Years of Division." New York Times. January 7, 2009.
  11. ^ Meyerson, Harold. "Labor's Real Fight." Los Angeles Times. February 1, 2009.
  12. ^ a b Knowles, Francine. "AFL-CIO, Change to Win May Reunite." Archived 2009-01-18 at the Wayback Machine Chicago Sun-Times. January 8, 2009.
  13. ^ a b c Ambinder, Marc. "Behind The Labor Merger Talks." Archived 2009-01-12 at the Wayback Machine Atlantic Monthly. January 9, 2009.
  14. ^ Leedham, Tom. "Reunification Without Democracy--What’s the Point?" Labor Notes. February 2009.
  15. ^ Change to Win Website, July 2017
  16. ^ Justice for Port Truck Drivers
  17. ^ Good Jobs Nation Archived 2019-03-02 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Fight for $15
  19. ^ Calling Out T-Mobile
  20. ^ Coalition for Rights at Nissan
  21. ^ Walgreens Gone Wrong
  22. ^ Walgreens Cashiers No Longer Required To Tell Customers To "Be Well" | The Consumerist
  23. ^ "About CtW Investment Group". CtW Investment Group. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  24. ^ Evans, Melanie (29 March 2017). "CtW Investment Calls for Governance Changes at Universal Health Services". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  25. ^ "Teamsters and CtW Investment Group Demand Amazon Come Clean on Workplace Safety Record". International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  26. ^ Gershon, Eric (22 May 2009). "CVS Stores Criticized In Report By Labor Group 'Change To Win'". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  27. ^ Palmer, Annie (25 May 2020). "Amazon investors want the company to address worker safety at its shareholder meeting". CNBC. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  28. ^ Baertlein, Lisa (13 February 2015). "McDonald's needs to shake up board, union fund adviser says". Reuters. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  29. ^ Golum, Rob (7 August 2020). "Electronic Arts Investors Reject Executive Pay in Rare Rebuke". Bloomberg. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  30. ^ Skariachan, Dhanya (22 April 2010). "CtW requests SEC inquiry into CVS exec transactions". Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  31. ^ Temple-West, Patrick; Edgecliffe-Johnson, Andrew (28 December 2020). "Unions blast $47m bonus for GE boss after share price target lowered". Financial Times. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  32. ^ Franklin, Joshua; Kerber, Ross (21 March 2019). "Union fund adviser CtW questions Lyft's path to profitability ahead of IPO". Reuters. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  33. ^ "About: Mission Statement". CtW Investment Group. Retrieved 1 April 2021.

External links[edit]