05/31/2005 01:35 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

It's Time for a Change at the AFL-CIO

In the 20th century, America's best anti-poverty program was the labor movement. Back then, if you had a "union" job at GM on a construction site or driving a truck, you had a good job. A job that allowed you to raise a family, have health care, own a home, help send your kid to college, and retire with dignity. Work paid -- it was the American Dream.

Today, forget it. You work and you are insecure or in debt. You work and you get little loyalty from your employer. In the 21st century, work is far less valued and rewarded.

Enter the labor movement to the rescue? Afraid not. With only 1 in 12 private sector workers in unions, unions lack the strength to change workers'lives. So job #1, you would figure, is to unite more workers into unions -- NOW!

At the 50th anniversary of the AFL-CIO the debate is in full swing. I say we need to change and build a new, growing, dynamic, modern labor movement for the 21st century. The current President, John Sweeney, says go slow -- it is unrealistic to expect us to change, and after all we cannot grow until we change public policy and labor laws.

Sorry, but workers can't wait that long. And with both parties tone deaf to people who work, it seems we need to find for ourselves new ideas, strategies, and vitality in this globalizing economy.

This July, unions in America will decide whether we change and maybe make a new history or stick to the status quo and become history.

I say change is long overdue!