AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland’s plan to retire and hand control of the organization over to his deputy has failed to appease the labor leaders who originally had sought his ouster, spokesmen for the dissident unions said Sunday.
Gerald W. McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the dissidents still plan to unveil a list of candidates for the organization’s top offices on Tuesday.
John J. Sweeney, president of the Service Employees International Union, confirmed Sunday that he still plans to head the slate, seeking Kirkland’s job.
AFL-CIO officials said over the weekend that the embattled Kirkland would retire and scuttle plans to run for re-election to the helm of the 13.3-million-member labor federation if his longtime executive secretary, Thomas Donahue, would run in his stead.
But the most vocal opposition members believe Donahue’s earlier decision to leave the labor movement rather than challenge the 73-year-old Kirkland or join him in a defiant run for re-election should disqualify him from consideration.
“Tom Donahue has made a number of calls under the public premise that he would get back into the race if there was overwhelming support for him to do that,” McEntee said, adding that he still has commitments from the original 11 dissident groups. “It is my understanding that he has received absolutely no encouragement to get into the race,” McEntee said.
The dissidents include some of the AFL-CIO’s largest unions, including the United Auto Workers, the United Steelworkers of America, the Teamsters, United Paperworkers International Union and the United Mine Workers.
New officers will be elected at the federation’s convention in New York in October. Leaders cast votes weighted to represent the number of members in their respective unions.