AFL-CIO's to shift magazine, most communications online

WASHINGTON: The AFL-CIO's new plan to reinvigorate the union movement will have consequences for its communication department, including staff cuts and the end of the organization's magazine.

WASHINGTON: The AFL-CIO's new plan to reinvigorate the union movement will have consequences for its communication department, including staff cuts and the end of the organization's magazine.

The magazine, "America@Work," has until now been published ten times per year and distributed to union members. It is being discontinued in order to save printing costs, which will be reallocated into an organizing fund designed to boost national union membership.

The union is also floating the names of Wal-Mart, Comcast, FedEx, and Toyota as possible targets of strategic and public-organizing campaigns.

Lane Windham, the AFL-CIO's director of media outreach, said that the group's communications will move primarily online. "The most popular issues of our magazine were ones that focused on a specific issue," she said, "so our thinking is to save money...and instead focus on issue publications, as well as beef up our web[site]."

The high volume of traffic to the union's site makes the move logical, she added.

The union's reorganization plan, which was announced late last month, included more than 100 layoffs of AFL-CIO staff. Windham said the group's approximately 40-person communication department will lose some writing positions and support staff, but added, "It's not a huge cut in our area."

The plan was put forth in response to flagging union strength in the US workplace and calls from union leaders to build membership. But its rollout sparked outrage in some quarters; Harold Schaitberger, the head of the International Association of Fire Fighters, resigned as head of the AFL-CIO's public affairs committee because he felt he was kept out of the loop about the plan.

That committee, which helps plan the union's communication strategy, has not yet picked Schaitberger's replacement, Windham said.

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