TRANSPORT AND MARITIME UNIONS SPLIT OVER AFL-CIO CANDIDATES

TRANSPORT AND MARITIME UNIONS SPLIT OVER AFL-CIO CANDIDATES

On Oct. 25, John Sweeney, president of the Service Employees International Union, will challenge Tom Donahue for the presidency of the 13 million-member AFL-CIO. Mr. Donahue, the current president and secretary-treasurer from 1979 to 1995, decided to run after former president Lane Kirkland stepped down Aug. 1.

Mr. Sweeney is backed by about 24 of the largest AFL-CIO unions representing about 55 percent of union membership. They include the Teamsters; the country's largest industrial unions, the Steelworkers, Autoworkers and Machinists; and several rail unions, including the Transportation Communications International Union.Mr. Donahue is supported by about 48 unions, including maritime labor and the International Longshoremen's Association; the trade-sensitive Communications Workers and textile-apparel unions; and the International Union of Electronic Workers, whose president, Bill Bywater, is the most outspoken labor critic of the North American Free Trade Agreement and World Trade Organization.

A handful of unions, including the West Coast International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, have not declared their intentions.

Mr. Donahue's running mate is AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Barbara Easterling, a former CWA official and the first women to hold a top AFL-CIO post.

Running with Mr. Sweeney for secretary-treasurer is Richard Trumka, president of the United Mine Workers of America. Linda Chavez-Thompson, a vice president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is running for the post of executive vice president. That new position must be approved by the AFL-CIO convention.