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January 12, 2005

Steelworkers- PACE Merger
Still Little Money for Organizing

The Steelworkers -- having merged with the rubber workers a few years ago -- anounced a merger with Paper, Allied Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union (PACE), itself a merger of the old Paperworkers with the Oil and Chemical workers union.

Reflecting the lack of clear logic to the merger, the new union has the ungainly name of the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied-Industrial and Service Workers International Union. This follows the failed attempt of the Steelworkers to merge with the United Auto Workers and Machinists back in 1999-- a merger that would have had a clearer logic in merging manufacturing unions in the metal trades.

But the merger will at least increase the economies of scale for organizing by the combined union, although the initial comments by union leaders still don't reflect the urgency to make organizing the core priority:

"We're going to be the largest union in a number of crucial sectors of the North American economy," Mr. Gerard said. "We'll be able to bargain better agreements and better represent our members, and by doing that, we think we can do a better job organizing additional workers."
While the union claims plans to spend $30 million per year on organizing, this is not as impressive as it might seem given that the Steelworkers by themselves back in 1998 announced a plan to spend $40 million per year.

Since the annual budget of the Steelworkers was $560 million and that of PACE was $62 million in 2003, the announced organizing budget is less than 5% of the combined annual budget of the combined union-- a pathetic amount.

Posted by Nathan at January 12, 2005 05:24 AM