07/10/2013 10:12 am ET Updated Jul 10, 2013

AFL-CIO, United Food and Commercial Workers Union Look To Reunite


WASHINGTON -- After leaving the nation's largest labor federation eight years ago, the United Food and Commercial Workers union is looking to rejoin the AFL-CIO, perhaps as early as the union's annual conference this August, according to In These Times.

UFCW, which represents 1.3 million workers, split from the AFL-CIO amid philosophical differences in 2005, joining the upstart rival Change to Win federation with the Service Employees International Union, the Teamsters and UNITE HERE.

Now, UFCW will ask its members to vote on its return to the AFL-CIO at its Chicago conference, according to the report, which was sourced to AFL-CIO officials.

Huffington Post had been making queries on the rumors with AFL-CIO and UFCW officials, who wouldn't comment on the negotiations. A possible reuniting of UFCW and the AFL-CIO has been talked about for several years.

"The details still have to get hammered out," a labor source familiar with the talks told HuffPost. "There are some issues here, some issues there, and everything is up in air. But I suspect this will come soon."

UFCW delivered a major blow to the AFL-CIO when it split in 2005 along with the SEIU and the Teamsters. At the time, the defecting unions felt the AFL-CIO wasn't doing enough to stop the shrinking footprint of organized labor in the U.S. workforce.

Like the SEIU, UFCW preferred to focus on worker organizing rather than the national politics of the AFL-CIO, though the cost of AFL-CIO dues was likely a factor as well. Sources told HuffPost that UFCW may be looking for a dues reduction as part of the negotiations, while the AFL-CIO has to make sure any deal doesn't rankle other federation members.

The return of UFCW would significantly boost the ranks of the roughly 12-million member AFL-CIO, delivering a major victory for the federation's president, Richard Trumka, in an era when union membership continues to decline. It would also deliver a considerable blow to the Change to Win federation if UFCW chooses to defect entirely.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misreported the membership of the AFL-CIO.



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