Monday, March 15, 2010

Retiring PA AFL-CIO Prez: "Recruit Younger Members"

The outgoing head of Pennsylvania’s AFL-CIO is urging his successor to focus on younger union employees.
Bill George will step down in the coming months, after twenty years as the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO’s president. George has led countless political efforts during his time with the union, and says he’s proud of aiding several statewide Democratic victories, singling out both Bob Casey’s 1986 gubernatorial win, and his son’s Senate victory two decades later.
George says his number-one pointer for the union’s next president is to focus on recruiting younger members.

"Because the 20 to 30-year-olds are the ones who realize now, when you talk to them – they realize they’re not going to have that opportunity their mom and dad and grandpap had with guaranteed pensions and long-term job security and health care coverage. So this whole 20 to 30 groups is looking, saying geez – what do we do about reinstituting the American dream?"

Political scientist Christopher Borick of Muhlenberg College says the landscape has shifted since George began his tenure.

"Whoever does replace him is coming into a new era where labor unions are still very relevant in Pennsylvania, in the political scene, but not bearing the power that they once did."

The AFL-CIO currently has about 900-thousand Pennsylvania members. Ranks were larger when George began his tenure, but the 68-year-old says he believes the union’s political activism has gotten more effective over the past two decades.

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