The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest union federation, allegedly fired a consulting firm that reported on staff accounts of ‘rampant’ sexual harassment and discrimination within the federation’s headquarters.
As revelations of sexual harassment of union staffers working within the union movement widens into a full-blown scandal, the AFL-CIO and other unions are scrambling to do damage control.
At the recent AFL-CIO convention in St. Louis, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka declared that the federation of 56 national unions has a “zero tolerance policy” toward sexual harassment in the workplace.
“We think we’re on the cutting edge of that. And if we aren’t, we want to be there,” told reporters.
However, according to a wide-ranging Bloomberg article on sexual harassment in unions, labor writer Josh Eidelson notes that, earlier this year, the AFL-CIO “settled a grievance brought by its own employees’ union, which accused the group of creating a hostile work environment for employees working on the 2016 election in Pennsylvania.”
Perhaps more telling of the union movement’s turning-a-blind-eye (until very recently) toward sexual harassment in the workplace, though, is the issue of the AFL-CIO’s firing a consulting firm that issued a report stating that there is “rampant” sexual harassment and discrimination within the AFL-CIO.
The federation’s excuse, according to Bloomberg, was that the firm was “‘not the right fit’ and wasn’t familiar with large unionized workforces.”
Current and former AFL-CIO employees say leaders shouldn’t be shocked by the recent allegations. In 2015, they say, an external consulting group prepared a report for the organization that related staff accounts of “rampant” sexual harassment and discrimination. No version of the report was ever distributed to staff, although a handful of people were allowed to read copies.
Asked about the findings, an AFL-CIO official familiar with the report said that the firm, the Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance, was “not the right fit” and wasn’t familiar with large unionized workforces. The AFL-CIO terminated the contract, opting to rely on its joint labor-management process instead. [Emphasis added.]
With unions–as the purported protectors of workers–engaging in the same egregious behaviors as some bad employers, it is not surprising that today’s unions are having problems recapturing the hearts of American workers.