Split upsets local SEIU president

At least one New Hampshire branch of the Service Employees International Union is disappointed that the national group broke off from the AFL-CIO labor group last month. But he is hopeful for the future.

“My reaction is, I don’t think too much of it. I just don’t think that Andy Stern did anybody any favors by doing it,” said Earl Sweet, president of SEIU Local 560, which represents 500 members at Dartmouth College. “To me it’s a big power play, and I think it’s unfortunate.”

Two unions — the SEIU and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters — left the AFL-CIO to form their own organization. They have said that the AFL-CIO concentrates too much on political lobbying.

Disappointed with the decline in membership, union leaders took a different direction.

“Andy’s more interested in getting more members,” Sweet said. “To me, you’ve got to take care of what you got first. It’s a mess, and hopefully everybody will get back to their senses and get back together and get this worked out.”

Gary Smith, president of the Service Employees’ Association of New Hampshire, SEIU Local 1984, referred calls to spokesperson John Corrigan.

“The most important thing with all this is we maintain a working partnership with the NH AFL-CIO because . . . we see them as a very positive force for economic and social justice in New Hampshire, the NH AFL-CIO, because … we see them as a very positive force for economic and social justice in New Hampshire, and we want to continue to work with them,” Corrigan said.

Mark McKenzie, president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO stressed that the fight is at the national level, not something that started in New Hampshire.

“These members are still here, it’s not like we just lost millions of members from the labor movement. Andy Stern wants to grow the labor movement. I think he really does. This is their approach to it … I guess time will tell.”

McKenzie said his goal is to keep a strong labor movement in New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire AFL-CIO has 45,000 active and retired members. SEIU Local 1984 has 8,271 active and retired members and is the fastest growing international in the AFL-CIO, Corrigan said.

“We don’t think it will have a direct impact on our members’ day-to-day lives,” Corrigan said. “We’re hoping that will result in a stronger labor movement.”


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