CHARLESTOWN, WV—In what may be a sign of simmering tensions between union bosses, the Teamsters in West Virginia have decided to join the AFL-CIO in West Virginia, according to a Teamsters’ press release last week.
In an encouraging sign of unity within the West Virginia labor movement, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 175 made a unanimous decision this past Saturday to affiliate with the West Virginia AFL-CIO.
“West Virginia working families have been under attack by the legislative leadership for the past five years, and the Teamsters and the West Virginia AFL-CIO have worked side by side to combat that effort,” said Teamsters Local 175 President Ken Hall, who is also General Secretary-Treasurer of the Teamsters international. “I look forward to working with WV AFL-CIO President Josh Sword, Secretary-Treasurer Andy Walters and their team, including all the affiliates and the network of 13 regional Central Labor Councils across the state, to spread our message and build even more support.
“We believe that a united labor movement is a stronger labor movement, and this is a great step of solidarity.”
In 2005, it was called the “Great Schism” of the labor movement. That was when seven unions—led by the Service Employees International Union’s then-president Andy Stern and the Teamsters’ president James P. Hoffa—broke away from the AFL-CIO.
Although several unions have since returned to the labor federation, the SEIU and the Teamsters remain outside the “House of Labor.”
It has been rumored that, due to the friction between the Teamsters’ Hoffa and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka that dates back to the late 1990s, the Teamsters as a whole would remain outside the AFL-CIO until one of the two leaders retires.
The re-affiliation of one of the more influential Teamster locals and the AFL-CIO in West Virginia may indicate a cooling off of those tensions.