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AFL-CIO Loses Two Large Labor Groups

Two major dissident unions split from the AFL-CIO, citing declining membership. The walkout by the Service Employees International Union and the Teamsters deprives the AFL-CIO of a quarter of its membership. AFL-CIO president John Sweeney says the departures are a "grievous insult" to working people.

In making the split at the AFL-CIO during its national gathering in Chicago, the Teamsters and the SEIU say they have bigger and bolder ideas for attracting new members to the labor movement. The two labor groups will band together with five other unions to create their own organization, called Change to Win.

The decision comes in the same year that the AFL-CIO is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the labor federation's founding.

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Frank Langfitt is NPR's London correspondent. He covers the UK and Ireland, as well as stories elsewhere in Europe.