Thursday, February 27, 2003

Labor Bullies
According to this story the labor unions are in a tiff over comments made by Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. In repsonse to a question about greater financial disclosure of union activities, Chao detailed seven criminal cases pending against the Machinists' Union. While this probably was not the most polite comment to offer to a union audience, one has to wonder about the reaction of the so called union leaders (bosses).
According to one, "We're disappointed frankly that they don't understand labor issues and labor people. The way the secretary presented herself today was proof of that. We think it's important that the labor movement strengthen its resolve as we go into 2004 to elect a president who understands working people."
One can argue about this administration's understanding of working people, and I think that is a valid concern. Yet, I fail to see the connection between explaining the impetus for greater financial disclosure and how that displays a lack of understanding of working people. What it really shows is an attempt to reign in labor union bosses and their secretive financial dealings. The average union member would welcome more transparency in his union's dealings, as would the general public.
However, union bosses have exercised such a degree of power, unencumbered by daylight. Why would they willingly give that up? But there is a long history of debate about whether union bosses actually represent their members' concerns and beliefs or their own narrow self interests. These poorly timed comments by labor union bosses only add fuel to the fire.
Union leaders use the "working people" card to the same extent that some black leaders play the race card. And more often than not it is a veil behind which they disguise their true agenda.


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