Keeping the Peace: AFL-CIO's Internal Dispute Plan - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 57, No. 1
The author is a full-time mediator and arbitrator of complex commercial disputes, including health care disputes. A former U.S. magistrate and commercial litigator, John W. Cooley is a founding member of Judicial Dispute Resolution Inc. in Chicago.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
Even a behemoth like the AFL-CIO is not immune from internal conflicts. George W. Bohlander discusses a particular type of internal dispute that could be very destabilizing for a union that boasts 13 million members. These are disputes that occur when an AFL-CIO affiliate “raids” members from a fellow affiliate, stirring a host of jurisdictional and representational issues. The federation, however, has successfully dealt with raiding disputes by adopting an internal dispute plan, which provides for a four-step dispute resolution procedure. In this article, Bohlander presents the findings of his study based on a review of 279 raiding arbitration cases conducted between 1989 and 1998. He concludes that the AFL-CIO Internal Dispute Plan has greatly reduced the incidents of raiding, and has proven to be a cornerstone to the overall stability of the federation.
The AFL-CIO’s Internal Dispute Plan, which is meant to reduce and resolve jurisdictional and representational (otherwise known as “raiding”) disputes among the federation’s affiliates, is perhaps one of the best kept secrets of the labor movement. The plan was adapted by the AFL-CIO in 1962 as a constitutional amendment (Article XX of the AFL-CIO Constitution) to keep the peace internally and it has proven to be a cornerstone to the stability of the federation.
In June 1981, this journal (then called the Arbitration Journal) published a seminal piece by Krislov and Mead reviewing the raiding practices of unions, including a 16-year statistical review of the plan’s use by affected unions.1
Specifically, the 1981 research sought to determine (1) whether the plan curtailed the efforts of larger unions to raid smaller unions and (2) whether the plan’s arbitrators were influenced by union size or the nature of the issue arbitrated.
Krislov and Mead concluded that the Internal Dispute Plan provided equal justice for affiliates although larger unions engage in a disproportionate share of raiding cases, a finding further confirmed by this research. More importantly, the Krislov and Mead study found that arbitrators issued awards without any apparent favoritism toward specific unions or the issue under dispute.
The labor movement has undergone significant change since the publication of the Krislov and Mead article. Noteworthy to this study are the changing sizes of individual unions, the change in representational and jurisdictional claims of labor organizations, and the differences in private and public sector labor organizing and growth. Fortunately, throughout this turbulent period, the Internal Dispute Plan has continued to effectively serve federation affiliates. This service goes largely unnoticed, receiving little attention in either federation publications or in published research by academics.2
This article’s objectives include a descriptive review of Article XX, the plan’s no-raiding proscriptions, and its dispute resolution procedure. It will also provide a 10-year review of Article XX arbitration cases, and discuss the win/loss rates of plaintiffs and defendants in raiding cases and the major violations of raiding activity. Analysis is offered for various findings. Background for the study is provided through a brief review of union raiding and the history of Article XX.