Andrew Stern founded Change to Win (CTW) as a union federation in 2005. Stern was prompted to form the new entity as a result of infighting with John Sweeney over the leadership of the AFL-CIO. At its founding, CTW had more than 6 million members and was composed of six unions: the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); the Laborers International Union of North America; the United Brotherhood of Carpenters; the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW); and UNITE-HERE!.
By 2010, CTW had 5.5 million members and consisted of five unions: the SEIU, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the UFCW, and the United Farm Workers of America.
CTW claims to protect the “American dream for America’s workers,” a dream that is “under threat today as never before in our lifetimes.” According to its constitution, CTW seeks to “hold global corporations and elected public officials accountable to working people.”
CTW’s “central objective” is to “unite the 50 million American workers who work in industries that cannot be outsourced or shipped overseas”—occupations like caring for the sick, attending to hotel guests, or transporting goods domestically—“into strong unions that can win them a place in the American middle class, where their jobs provide good wages, decent working conditions and a voice on the job.”[
According to CTW, “The American economy has doubled over the past 30 years … [y]et our hardworking men and women have not seen a dime of the additional wealth they produced. Instead, the richest Wall Street speculators and corporate CEOs have taken the gains from this productivity and used it to buy political influence and rewrite all the rules.”
The power of CTW intersects with a host of other leftist organizations. Anna Burger, the first and current chairwoman of CTW, best exemplifies the network between big labor and progressive advocacy. She is the International Secretary-Treasurer of the SEIU and the Vice Chairwoman of the George Soros– and Peter Lewis-funded Democracy Alliance. With the financial power of CTW and several institutions at her disposal, Burger has been able to direct tens of millions of dollars toward Democratic candidates and radical organizations like (the now-defunct) ACORN.
CTW is also a leading advocate of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and waged a national campaign to ensure that President Barack Obama would sign the bill after his election in 2008. Since “workplace elections are not free or fair,” CTW claims, workers need to be protected from corporations.
In 2009, CTW collaborated with the AFL-CIO to draft a five-point proposal on immigration reform. This was designed to “reduce” not only “the exploitation of immigrant workers,” but also “employers’ incentive to hire undocumented workers rather than American workers.” While CTW maintains that it does not favor amnesty for illegal immigrants, a principal theme of its advocacy is family reunification, which would allow tens of millions of additional newcomers into the nation.
CTW is also fiercely anti-free trade. “Much of the emigration from Mexico in recent years,” it claims, “resulted from the disruption caused by NAFTA, which displaced millions of Mexicans from subsistence agriculture and enterprises that could not compete in a global market.”
On March 21, 2010, CTW participated in the pro-amnesty March for America. Advocating comprehensive immigration reform and “economic justice,” CTW was joined in this endeavor by a host of progressive organizations like the AFL-CIO, the Center for American Progress, the National Council of La Raza, Progressive Democrats of America, the SEIU, and many others.
In 2011 CTW supported the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act (SB 104), which extended to California’s farm workers the same collective-bargaining rights traditionally enjoyed by the state public employees responsible for overseeing California’s agricultural industry. CTW portrayed these farm workers as “the human beings who torture their bodies, sacrifice their youth, and numb their spirits to produce California’s great agricultural wealth, a wealth so vast that it feeds all of America and much of the world.”
One of CTW’s major ongoing campaigns is its demonization of the Walmart Corporation, for allegedly failing to give its employees “the respect they deserve” in the form of “jobs that pay fairly and guarantee workers a [unionized] voice.” “Walmart creates poverty jobs,” says CTW. “A worker earning the company-reported average full-time hourly wage working Walmart’s definition of full-time would be earning below the federal poverty level for a family of four. These jobs do not strengthen our communities or our nation.”
CTW also demands better pay, healthcare, and retirement benefits for harbor truck drivers who move freight containers into and out of American ports. “Instead of being treated with dignity and respect,” says CTW, “they are treated like sharecroppers on wheels.”
CTW’s Leadership Council includes such notables as Mary Kay Henry (Secretary-President of the SEIU); James P. Hoffa (General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters); Geralyn Lutty (International Vice President of United Food and Commercial Workers); Eliseo Medina (Secretary-Treasurer of the SEIU); Arturo Rodriguez (President of the United Farm Workers of America); and Tom Woodruff (Executive Vice President of the SEIU).
For additional information on CTW, click here.
 UNITE HERE! was formed as the result of a merger between (a) the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE), and (b) the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE).