The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, September 23, 2011

State AFL-CIO president steps down

By The Building Tradesman

LANSING – Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney announced Sept. 9 that he would not be seeking re-election at the labor federation’s election this fall.

“It is time for me to pursue other opportunities and I will not run for re-election,” Gaffney said. “The environment in Michigan has changed significantly for unions, their members and working families as a whole. Our approach in the Michigan labor movement must therefore also change and new leadership is called for.

“I know that the union affiliates of the Michigan State AFL-CIO are up to the task of taking on the dangerous extremists in the Tea Party and the other threats we are now facing. I am pleased that the groundwork we laid together over the last 12 years provides a good foundation to fight from.”

Gaffney, a Teamster, oversaw a labor federation that has shrunk to about 350,000 active members. In addition, organized labor’s traditional allies in the Democratic Party lost numerous contests in last November ’s election, leading to a Republican-created environment that is hostile toward unions.

“I hardly think Mark was alone responsible for what happened last November , just as I think he wasn’t alone responsible for the Democratic victories the year when President Obama came into office,” said Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Devlin. “I think what he did over the years was to put into place a good structure for organized labor to be the best it could in Michigan during some incredibly challenging times. I don’t think anyone could have done his job any better.”

Gaffney will be replaced by former UAW staffer and one-time Wayne County consultant Karla Swift.

“I urge progressive people all across Michigan to study our issues and raise their voices against injustice and to vote in every election,” Gaffney said. “I want to thank all of the Michigan union members with whom and for whom I worked. I am pretty darn proud of them all.”