Monday, February 21, 2011

Unions: Dupes, Thugs, and Politicians


By Alan Caruba

Growing up in New Jersey and having been a journalist here, my memory of news about unions in the Garden and Empire States is that of headlines concerning the indictment and sentencing of various union chiefs and their underlings.

The alignment between unions and the Mafia is so well known it has been the subject of movies such as “On the Waterfront”, “The Godfather”, “Goodfellas” and “Casino.” To this day the rumor persists that Jimmy Hoffa is buried somewhere between the goalposts of Giants stadium in the Meadowlands.

As events unfold in the very progressive capital of Wisconsin, Madison, the public is being treated to the way unions have very nearly always functioned. Intimidation has been their stock in trade with campaign contributions running a close second. We are watching an epic battle between Wisconsin voters and entrenched, self-serving unions.

In his 2006 book, “Solidarity for Sale: How Corruption Destroyed the Labor Movement and Undermined America’s Promise”, Robert Finch, a former labor organizer and later a faculty member at Cornell and New York University, told the story of how and why unions were and are rotten to the core.

Finch’s book reads like a Hollywood movie script, replete with the names of Mafia families like that of New Jersey’s Vito Genevese and a host of others throughout the nation.

“Corruption,” says Finch “had been built into the labor movement from its very inception.” The politicians who benefited from union support have always done their best to ignore “five generations of racketeering, Mafia rule, bribery and extortion, job selling, benefit fund theft, and simple thievery, going back to the days of the early-twentieth-century labor czars.” This dates back as well to the creation of the National Labor Relations Board created by Congress in 1935. It is another legacy of the FDR years that have left the nation on the brink of bankruptcy.

Suffice to say that the National Labor Relations Board is a useless, allegedly “independent” government entity, often looking with favor on the union’s unceasing demands. Among the issues conservatives want to thwart are card check regulations to enhance union power. Reportedly, Republicans have cut $50 million from the NRLB’s budget as a part of the effort to cut the bloated Obama budget.

Finch notes that “In 1986, the President’s Commission on Organized Crime had identified the four most mobbed-up unions; the Teamsters, the Laborers, the Hotel and Restaurant Workers, and the East Coast Longshoremen. The close relationship between labor unions and the Democratic Party is too often obscured by the mainstream media. “According to the Center for Responsible Politics”, Finch noted, “seven of the top ten campaign contributors in the last decade are not Fortune 500 corporations. They’re AFL-CIO unions.”

Little wonder that public service union members are howling for the head of Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker or that several Wisconsin Democrat politicians have fled to Illinois to avoid debating his proposals. His demand that unions forego collective bargaining rights is, in fact, not that unusual. Twenty-two States have curbed union power with “right to work” legislation.

Perhaps the greatest error regarding the union movement came in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order to grant all federal government employees the right to unionize and collectively bargain with departments and agencies. This accounts for the rise in power of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) with its 1.8 million members and the deceptively named National Education Association (NEA), a union, the largest in the nation. It has 3.2 million members and employs more than 550 staff.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the NEA is responsible for the horrid test scores of U.S. students throughout the nation despite their incessant demands for higher wages, along with healthcare and pension programs well in excess of the private sector. Since the 1960s, they have been at the heart of the deteriorating condition of education in America. A four-part series on this topic is posted on the website of The National Anxiety Center which I founded in 1990.

Leading the SEIU is Andy Stern whose many visits to the White House since Obama was elected have become legendary. His rise in the union began with organizing hundreds of thousands of home care and day care workers. Despite unionizing, their pay has never really improved. “The SEIU,” Finch noted, “is now the largest AFL-CIO union.”

During his campaign and since, President Obama has never made any secret of how beholden he is to the SEIU and the union movement that contributed millions toward his election. It should come as no surprise that he has spoken up regarding the Wisconsin riots on the side of the union members. This ignores the fact that a majority of Wisconsin voters put the Governor in office, along with giving political power to Republicans there. They campaigned on the very issues the unions are protesting against.

Wisconsin, like other States that are essentially broke, must win the struggle to reduce the taxpayer burden that government worker and public sector unions represent.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

8 comments:

TexasFred said...

The BIGGEST Union thug and supporter in this United States is none other than Barack Hussein Obama...

I think he plans to use the Unions like Hitler used the *Brown Shirts*...

Guy in Ohio said...

You can tell this situation in Madison, and in my hometown of Columbus, has really hit a nerve with union members. The comment sections of all the politically oriented blogs have exploded with hysterical rants, attacking Walker, Kasich, and anyone else who dares to support their efforts to put an end to the union gravy train.

Like a bunch of spoiled brats whose parents are taking away their candy, they're crying, kicking and screaming, in a pathetic attempt to change our minds, but it's not going to work. Organized labor simply went to far. They've tried to hide it for years, but the American public has finally recognized that unions are largely to blame for our economic woes. They've nearly killed the goose that laid the golden egg, and the rest of us are fed up with it.

The polls clearly show that a strong majority of Americans support reigning them in, and imposing severe limits on their future power. I hope Walker, Kasich, and the rest of America's leaders recognize this, and will stand firm on this issue.

Our future depends on it.

Ronbo said...

The labor unions - especially the "public sector" ones - are the Storm Troopers (SA) of the American Socialism.

If this nation is to survive they must be ruthlessly crushed and their leadership arrested for numerous felonies.

As Tony Soprano might say, "You either tag us, or we tag you!"

Desertrat said...

The purpose of unions was to protect the worker against the Evil Bosses. Since we all know that government is benevolent, why is there a need for government-employee unions? Hmmm?

'62/'63, I had a job working alongside UAW guys. Learned all I needed to, right there.

Serendipity: This general subject came up an hour ago with a buddy who'd been the only conservative in a Machinist's Union local at Dow Chemical in 1962-1979. He went to meetings all dressed in "fighting clothes", including steel-toed work boots. He was the lone voice against some 300 socialist and communist-leftover types.

In the private sector, when unions price a product out of the market, a taxpayer can buy something made in China. With public-employee union costs, however, the taxpayer is screwed.

Joanna said...

:)
I and my Husband came as political immigrants to the USA in June of 1983...
18 months later my husband was hired by GM as an electrician...
and few months later at the first of "our" experience with the UAW strike... I was up-in-arms about the need for Union ....and stated that the UAW will bring the Auto Industry and the Country down...
...not knowing the language that well, just base my opinions on happenings in Flint (MI)...I could not believe all the BS is for real...
over the years UAW Post 594 lead-in-shisters were sent to prison for their part of pushing the law to a limit of tolerance...
...in 2001 my second (late) husband lost his job and his company (LTV Steel in Cleveland, OH was disolved) due to Union unrealistic holds)...
...on the other hand I have worked for one of the most succesful companies in the USA....Home Depot...
and until a nut-in-charge-took over(Nardelli)....I might have spell his name wrong...but by any means feel free to adjust)...
the company was doing GREAT without Union, and his PROGRESSIVE way of directives almost brought the company to a bancruptcy step...
...it was a hell of frustration to see the board of directors to come to his conclusion after years of messing up the company what I was seeing after first 2 months of his "input"....
...my daughter says I have a nose for a BS...
:)
...it is very frustrating to watch some "famous and established people" to make their decisions and statements...
...just like a treaty with Russians...
...it is a miracle I have any of my gray hair left...
...the only question I always have at a bottom of a story...post...listing I read...
ARE THERE ANY PEOPLE LEFT WITH A TRUE LOVE FOR THEIR COUNTRY ?!!!
....or we just elect next of lesser evils???!!!!....without honor...pride...and the plain responsibility to do THE JOB their were in such angst to perform!!!!????????....

Personal Conscience said...

This is amazing to me. Unions are the reason we have a middle class. Have they been riddled with corruption...yes. But so has our government. Everyone behaves as if public workers don't pay taxes like everyone else. Unions are the reason public and private workers enjoy 8 hour days, overtime, paid holidays and benefits.

It is a long established fact that public workers are by and large better educated and are salaried lower than public workers in the same type job. The trade-off in salary was because of benefits.

I recognize that state's are cash strapped, but the bottom fell out of the economy because of Wall Street shenanigans. I recall the huge Wall Street bonuses couldn't be interfered with because they had contracts. Well union workers have contracts too.

I am not suggesting that everyone should not have to give-up something, but this demonization of public workers needs to stop. Many of them lost their homes and jobs like everyone else.

Ask Wall Street to replenish the pensions they devastated and states won't be so cash strapped. Ask Congress to give up the multi-million dollar budget each one of them is entitled to so they can buy everything from Coca-Cola to cars.

I guess not...it's easier to attack the garbage man, teachers, nurses and the street cleaner.

Alan Caruba said...

@Personal Conscience:

"It is a long established fact that public workers are by and large better educated and are salaried lower than public workers in the same type job. The trade-off in salary was because of benefits."

What rock have you been living under? Or haven't you heard that public sector workers are better paid than private sector workers and have much better pension and health benefits. This is not a secret...except to you who have obviously not been paying attention to the news lately.

Come on, PC, wake up and small the coffee!

Guy in Ohio said...

@ Personal conscience:

Spoken like a true leftist ... As Alan said ... Wake up and smell the coffee!