Labor Union

Change to Win

Website:

www.changetowin.org

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

20-3688367

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(5)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $9,516,036
Expenses: $10,262,532
Assets: $3,426,698

Type:

Labor Union Strategic Organizing Center

Formation:

September 27, 2005 in Washington, D.C.

Founders:

Tom Woodruff

Anna Burger

Edgar Romney

James Hoffa

Terry O’Sullivan

Bruce Raynor

John Wilhelm

Doug McCarron

Arturo S. Rodriguez

Joe Hansen

Executive Dir3ector:

Tom Woodruff

Change to Win (CtW) is a federation of labor unions and “strategic organizing center” closely associated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT). It was initially created in 2005 when seven former AFL-CIO affiliated labor unions defected to form their own labor Federation. Led by Andy Stern of the SEIU and James Hoffa of the Teamsters, the seven unions took over $1 billion in combined assets and nearly 5 million union members (or 40% of the AFL-CIO’s membership) with them.[1] The defecting unions claimed that they formed the new federation would be focused on organizing new union members and would focus less on politics. However, labor movement observers noted an ongoing struggle for power over who was in charge of the labor movement.[2]

By 2007, observers had declared that Change to Win had failed to accomplish its mission, in that the SEIU was the only union to see significant member growth while the underlying organizations remained as politically focused as the AFL-CIO was pre-split.[3] By 2007, four of Change to Win’s seven unions had left the federation; many rejoined the AFL-CIO.[4] In 2011, Change to Win rebranded itself from a labor federation to a “Strategic Organizing Center”[5] and labor watchers at In These Times reported that Change to Win was rarely seen or heard from and that only a handful of Change to Win’s members even knew what it is or why they were in it.[6]

Twice Change to Win was sued for its involvement in aggressive corporate campaigns that sought to disparage businesses in order to reduce the corporation’s stock and public image to gain exclusive bargaining rights for its member unions at teach corporation.[7] [8]

Change to Win was an early endorser of President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, and it has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to state-based Democratic Party committees[9] and left-of-center organizations such as UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza), ProgressiveCongress.org, the Sierra Club,[10] and the defunct community organizing network ACORN.[11] The organization has pushed for a number of notably liberal labor policies such as a $15 minimum wage,[12] universal federal unionization, a prohibition against state right-to-work laws,[13] and card-check legislation[14] that would eliminate the use of secret ballots in union organizing elections.[15]

Origins

In the early 2000s a group of unions were highly critical of the AFL-CIO’s perceived prioritization of political and labor law reform over union organizing, which their leadership argued was responsible for a decades-long decline in union membership.[16]

Consequently in 2003 those unions, while still members of the AFL-CIO, created the New Unity Partnership, a “mini labor federation” to shift focus back toward organizing union membership and increasing union “density”—the proportion of employees unionized—within already organized industries.[17] [18] Andrew Stern, the then-President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) who was seen as the leader of the New Unity Partnership, said that “unions must be much bigger to be able to bargain with global companies” and opposed the creation of smaller unions that represent local regions.[19]

The New Unity Partnership included the SEIU, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), the newly merged textile, restaurant employee, and hotel employee union Unite Here, and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters , which had already disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO.[20] Subsequently, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), the United Farm Workers (UFW), and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) also joined the unions of the New Unity Partnership. [21]

Split with AFL-CIO

On September 27, 2005, the seven unions in New Unity Partnership disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO and formed the Change to Win federation of unions (CtW).[22] Together the CtW unions took over $1 billion in combined assets and nearly 5 million union members (or 40% of the AFL-CIO’s membership) with them.[23]

Upon their departure, Change to Win estimated that the new federation would spend 75% of its annual budget on organizing, and that its individual unions would spend nearly $750 million combined on organizing at the local, state, and national levels annually.[24]

At its founding convention, Teamsters president James P. Hoffa promised the CtW would be a “lean, mean, organizing machine” [25] and SEIU vice president Tom Woodruff argued that there were over 40 million potential new union members that could be organized into CtW’s unions.[26]

Longtime-labor columnist David Moberg wrote in 2005 that the creation of CtW was billed by its members as a fight over the direction the labor movement was heading but ultimately became a struggle for power over who was in charge of the labor movement.[27] According to Moberg, in the end “Change to Win unions wanted to have power to name the next AFL-CIO president” when then-President John Sweeney stepped down and chose to leave when they could not get complete control of the selection decision. [28]

Similarly, In These Times writer Steve Early wrote, “At the time of its birth, skeptics argued that CtW was more about the money (as in paying less), than a different kind of union functioning.”[29]

A separate In These Times article claimed that the split “was more about posturing than substance, which hid the conflicts among the CtW unions that subsequently emerged leaving CtW fragmented and adrift.[30]

Mission Failure

According to In These Times labor writers, by 2007 “it was clear that the alleged promise of the Change To Win federation had gone unfulfilled”[31]

In the six years following CtW’s departure from the AFL-CIO the aggregate number of organizing campaign wins between the two organizations decreased by 1,427 wins (or 40%) as compared against the prior six years. [32]

Moreover, a review of National Labor Relations Board organizing elections data found that from 2006 through 2011, CtW’s unions underperformed the AFL-CIO, winning 58% of their elections compared to the AFL-CIO’s 64.1% win rate. [33]

Ultimately, CtW’s unions added 170,679 new union members in its first six years through organizing campaigns.[34]

The increase was mostly confined to the SEIU, which added 300,000 workers to its ranks while CtW’s other union memberships remained flat or significantly declined. [35] Unite Here, lost 90,000 members by 2008, while the Teamsters membership rose by just 0.4%.[36]

By 2008, CtW’s overall membership had decreased by nearly 700,000 workers.[37] Moreover, four of CtW’s seven unions disaffiliated from the federation, with the UFCW, LIUNA, and Unite Here (less the split faction Workers United, which stayed in CtW as part of SEIU) rejoining the AFL-CIO. The Carpenters left CtW and became an independent union.[38]

By 2011, In These Times reported that CtW “was rarely seen or heard from” and “only a handful of CtW’s members…even know what it is or why they are in it.”[39]

Left as a much smaller alliance of just the SEIU, the Teamsters, and the tiny United Farm Workers (UFW), CtW rebranded itself from a labor federation to a “Strategic Organizing Center.” [40]

SEIU Poaching Conflict

In 2009 union leaders within CtW, accused Andy Stern and the SEIU of pursuing a long desired hostile takeover of the 450,000-member Unite Here union. The conflict resulted in a bitter disagreement between the asset rich textile workers union (UNITE) and the member laden hotel and restaurant employees union (HERE). Described as a “war” for control over Unite Here, the union and two thirds of the union’s members eventually disaffiliated from CtW and re-joined the AFL-CIO while the remaining one-third joined the SEIU. [41]

The liberal news organization DemocracyNow! claimed that both the AFL-CIO and many of the CtW unions believed that SEIU had “gone off the deep end in its attempt to raid other unions.”[42]

Political Activity

In 2005 Change to Win leaders criticized the AFL-CIO for spending too much on politics as one of the reasons for their departure. But Change to Win’s affiliated unions focused heavily on politics to help their organizing efforts.[43] University of Richmond political scientist Tracy Roof concluded there was “no significant difference in the levels of political spending between Change to Win affiliates and AFL-CIO affiliates in the two years following the split.”[44]

In 2006, CtW along with the AFL-CIO, and 2004 Democratic Presidential candidate Wesley Clark, jointly founded the September Fund, which was organized by President Clinton White House aide Harold Ickes.[45]

In 2008, CtW endorsed then-Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and The Atlantic reported CtW created its own political field operation and organizing operation[46] and planned to spend over $20 million to help elect Democrats in battleground states.[47]

Additionally, Change to Win’s political education account received $16.8 million in contributions from 2006 through 2009 and spent $11 million supporting Democratic campaigns. This political education account gave $50,000 to the Democratic Attorney General’s Association, $50,000 to the Democratic Governors Association, $50,000 to the Florida Democratic Party, $1 million to the left-leaning Majority Action PAC, $60,000 to various Ohio state Democratic Party committees, and hundreds of thousands of dollars to other union PACs.[48]

However, from 2009 through 2016 the group’s general treasury only reported a total of $511,313 in total political and lobbying spending.[49]

Support For Left-of-Center Organizations

CtW has given millions of dollars in contributions to liberal organizations including $75,000 to ProgressiveCongress.org, $50,000 to UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza), $150,000 to America Votes, $43,084 to the Sierra Club, and nearly $500,000 to the left-leaning Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy.[50]

Between 2006 and 2009, Change to Win gave over $400,000 to various ACORN entities including ACORN National, ACORN California, and Washington ACORN.[51]

Left-Wing Political Positions

Change to Win uses groups known as “worker centers,” such as the National Day Labor Organizing Network to organize employees who are then later added to the traditional unions. Business groups describe this as an “end-run around labor laws” regulating the unionization of new groups of workers.[52]

CtW’s Good Jobs Nation campaign is a worker center advocacy organization pushing for a number of liberal policy issues on behalf of federal contract workers.[53] Currently, Good Jobs Nation advocates for federal government policies that provide new government handouts to contract employees, imposing burdensome federal restrictions on federal contractors. The group also pushes for universal federal unionization of all federal contract employees and opposes right-to-work laws across the country.[54]

CtW also supports the “Fight for $15” campaign alongside the SEIU advocating for a mandatory $15 minimum wage across the country.[55]

CtW’s port truck driver worker center campaign coordinates labor strikes alongside the Teamsters union[56] calling for a government mandated reclassification of port truck drivers as full-time employees,[57] adding at least $1.4 billion in annual supply-chain costs to American companies.[58]

Corporate Campaigns

CTW uses corporate campaigns aimed at damaging a company’s reputation and profitability to push employers toward CtW’s liberal policy agenda.[59]

Currently, CtW touts its support for two corporate campaigns focused on T-Mobile, Nissan.[60]

Additionally, CtW has previously waged corporate campaigns against CVS,[61] Smithfield Foods, and Walmart.[62]

In 2007, Smithfield Foods sued CtW and its then-member union the UFCW alleging that the two entities ran a “malicious” and “extortionate” pressure campaign in violation of federal RICO anti-corruption statutes and other state anti-extortion laws.[63] The lawsuit claimed that Change to Win and the UFCW corporate campaign used false and/or damaging information, interference with Smithfield’s business relations, orchestration of frivolous regulatory investigations, and communications with financial analysts in an effort to reduce the value of Smithfield stock and to have Smithfield executives acknowledge the UFCW as the exclusive bargaining representative for some of their employees.[64]

In 2011, food service company Sodexo, Inc. sued CtW and the SEIU[65] alleging the duo’s corporate campaign “amounted to extortion.”[66] During the lawsuit, an SEIU corporate campaign memo was introduced as evidence detailing how the SEIU and thus CtW encouraged union members to publicize “dirt” including charges of “racism, sexism, exploitation of immigrants” to push the company’s executives to agree to a union organizing contract.[67]

In 2009, Change to Win and the SEIU waged a corporate campaign against Bank of America calling for the termination of BofA’s president as part of their broader effort to unionize BofA and other banks.[68]

Change to Win has participated in numerous corporate campaigns against Walmart including 2009’s Warehouse Workers United, which pushed for state enforcement actions and class-action litigation against Wal-Mart.[69] CtW also ran the Making Change at Walmart corporate campaign.[70]

Card Check

CtW was an ardent supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act,[71] an unsuccessful federal bill that would have eliminated secret ballot union elections nationwide and instead require publicly signed union cards to create a union.[72]

In 2006, the Littler law firm wrote “the main objective of many corporate campaigns is to obtain an agreement for a ‘card check’ recognition,” and that “most employers and many employees object to card check recognition on the grounds that union representatives can subject employees to coercion, peer pressure, threats, and misrepresentations.”[73]

University of North Carolina-Charlotte finance professor Tony Plath said that CtW’s corporate campaign against Bank of America was intended to build support for the federal “card check” legislation.[74]

Similarly, CVS executives alleged that Change to Win “began its campaign to disparage CVS in 2007 after it refused to waive its employees’ right to vote confidentially in union elections.”[75]

Controversies

Rod Blagojevich

In 2008 the SEIU was named in a federal criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich (D) that alleged Blagojevich had suggested to a top SEIU official he would appoint President-elect Obama’s preferred candidate, Valerie Jarrett, to the U.S. Senate in exchange for a $300,000 per year job as executive director at Change to Win.[76] [77]

People

Tom Woodruff is the Executive Director of CtW and also International Executive Vice President of SEIU. Woodruff began working for SEIU affiliated labor unions in 1974. In 1992 he was elected to SEIU’s International Executive Board, and in 1996 he oversaw SEIU’s national organizing program under SEIU President Andrew Stern.[78]

CtW’s leadership council is comprised of the heads of the organization various labor union members including Board Chair and Teamsters Union President James Hoffa, Board Secretary-Treasurer and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, and board members Arturo S. Rodriguez (President, United Farm Workers of America), Christopher Shelton (President, Communications Workers of America), and Dennis Williams (President, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW).)[79]

References

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Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Anna Burger
    Former Chair
  2. Andy Stern
    Co-Founder (via SEIU)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 2007

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Dec Form 990 $9,516,036 $10,262,532 $3,426,698 $1,026,001 N $0 $8,620,844 $3,478 $228,000
    2015 Dec Form 990 $10,956,688 $11,266,061 $4,049,489 $914,282 N $0 $9,294,564 $5,396 $228,000 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $12,551,712 $11,252,732 $4,214,819 $755,038 N $0 $10,896,355 $2,548 $228,000
    2013 Dec Form 990 $11,993,608 $16,168,532 $3,577,184 $1,444,024 N $0 $11,067,178 $9,286 $133,000 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $11,780,623 $13,411,937 $7,563,863 $1,597,255 N $0 $11,014,582 $20,667 $152,801 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $11,496,796 $11,644,957 $8,915,205 $1,327,615 N $0 $11,140,445 $31,180 $0 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $14,835,062 $13,187,120 $9,112,329 $1,367,071 N $0 $12,743,854 $22,031 $186,464 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Change to Win

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