The Center for Union Facts is marking Labor Day by reminding Americans of union fatcats and the corruption of Big Labor. The state of the unions is…not good:
* Union membership is down to 7.4 percent of private sector employees and down to 12 percent overall (government employees are highly unionized, at a rate of 36.2 percent) – that’s down from a high of 20.1 percent in 1983
* Union bosses continue to be criticized for their lavish salaries, even while their membership declines
* Even after several major unions split from the AFL-CIO to improve their growth, some have found little success
Things are so bad with one carpenters’ union that it outsourced picketing duties to homeless people.
As I noted a few days ago, Big Labor is busying itself these days suing the government to protect illegal alien workers instead of American workers, lobbying for amnesty, and working to undermine employer sanctions for businesses that hire illegal immigrants.
In NYC, the traditional Labor Day parade has been cancelled amid massive corruption charges leveled against the head of the parade’s organizing union. The NYPost editorial board notes the symbolism:
The parade sputtered out entirely for most of the ’70s due to sparse attend- ance, and hasn’t even been held on Labor Day for the past decade.
Then again, this hasn’t exactly been a stellar year for the sponsoring organization, the Central Labor Council: Its former head, Brian McLaughlin, is under indictment for racketeering, embezzlement and fraud, to the tune of $2.2 million.
As U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia said in announcing the indictment – which includes 44 counts and runs to 186 pages (here’s the PDF): McLaughlin’s alleged larceny “lends new meaning to the term ‘hand in the till.’ ”
Besides which, the fact remains that the only real growth in the American labor movement – especially in New York – has been in the public sector: Government workers whose power derives from their unions’ ability to shake down elected officials, particularly during an election year.
The labor movement, in other words, really doesn’t have all that much to celebrate. We can’t think of any other reason why the CLC would voluntarily give up an opportunity for politicians to show up and display their fealty to organized labor.
Other than the likelihood that no one would have shown up to watch it.
On the Left, E.J. Dionne marvels: “At a moment of organizational weakness, labor’s political influence and ideological appeal may be as strong as at any time since the New Deal. Every Democrat running for president seems to know this.”
Shrinking numbers, growing Beltway power. Only a movement sustained by forced dues and an expansive political agenda far beyond its core mission could make that formula work.
NRO editors look at The Union Party:
Notwithstanding their professed interest in oversight and accountability, the House Democrats passed a Department of Labor appropriations bill this summer that cut $2 million from the budget for the Office of Labor and Management Standards, which oversees how unions spend dues money. During the Bush administration, this office has finally gotten unions to start complying with decades-old laws requiring itemized disclosure of their spending and their officers’ conflicts of interest. No wonder union leaders don’t want it funded.
More and more, union leaders are also putting their organizations on the record on issues unrelated to labor or collective bargaining. The National Education Association spends less than 15 percent of its dues money representing members in the workplace, according to disclosure forms filed with the Department of Labor. It gives its leftover millions to groups that do such things as resist Social Security reform and litigate to prevent restrictions on abortion. It has also declared its support for a government-controlled and taxpayer-funded health-care system. Other unions advocate such causes as same-sex marriage, higher taxes (which their workers would have to pay), retreat from Iraq, and an amnesty for illegal immigrants that would adversely affect the wage growth of many union members.
In ages past, when the worker’s lot was much worse than it is today, union leaders stuck to what they did best: collective bargaining and improvement of work conditions. They fought for the well-being of their workers, but frequently opposed government intervention in the workplace, understanding that a free market would create jobs and opportunities for all. Today’s labor leaders simply fight to preserve their power, often at the expense of both the workers they represent and the country as a whole. Unfortunately, their closest political friends hold a majority in Congress.
And check out the NLPC’s union corruption update newsletter for another reminder of labor leaders lining their pockets at workers’ expense.
Happy Labor Day!
One issue where a labor organization has taken the right side: those Mexican trucks that will start chugging across the southern border beginning on Sept. 6. The Teamsters and others tried to block the Bush plan via an emergency petition. The 9th Circuit handed a win to the open borders mob on this one:
The Bush administration can proceed with a plan to open the U.S. border to long haul Mexican trucks as early as next week after an appeals court rejected a bid by labor, consumer and environmental interests to block the initiative.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco late on Friday denied an emergency petition sought by the Teamsters union, the Sierra Club and consumer group Public Citizen to halt the start of a one-year pilot program that was approved by Congress after years of legal and political wrangling.
The Transportation Department welcomed the decision and said in a statement that allowing more direct shipments from Mexico will benefit U.S. consumers. The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement approved broader access for ground shipments from both countries but the Clinton administration never complied with the trucking provision. A special tribunal ordered the Bush administration to do so in 2001.
“This is the wrong decision for working men and women,” Jim Hoffa, president of the Teamsters, said in a statement after the court ruling. “We believe this program clearly breaks the law.” The Teamsters represents truckers that would be affected by the change. The emergency stay was sought on grounds the administration’s pilot program had not satisfied the U.S. Congress’ requirements on safety and other issues. But the appeals court ruled otherwise.
Hey, like Mexican President Felipe Calderon says: “Mexico does not end at its borders.”