For union folks like Sean McGarvey, the issue comes down to this: Change may necessary, but not at the cost of one’s own identity. And that is the danger of what AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka plans for the labor movement.

McGarvey is president of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades, a two-million-member coalition group within the larger labor federation.

Trumka seems taken in particular with the grassroots groups like Occupy Wall Street. He wants to harness that energy for Big Labor.

So it was a sign of major discontent with the ranks when he publicly slammed Trumka’s plans to strengthen ties with non-union activist groups like the Sierra Club.

“Giving people a seat where they have governance, and don’t represent workers, that was a bridge too far for lots of folks,” he told the Wall Street Journal recently.

Trumka’s people disputed that that was ever the plan, saying they “never intended to give advocacy groups a governance role” in setting the AFL-CIO’s agenda. Rather, the new plan is the groups would join an existing labor-backed nonunion activist group called Working America.

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