Thursday, February 23, 2006

This guy should be beaten to death with a shoe

Is it time for unions to go?
By Richard Berman
Washington Examiner

Publicity is a lot like warfare-it is always sound strategy to occupy and hold the high ground at any cost. Union leaders have been doing just that for decades now. By rhetorically positioning themselves at the forefront of struggles for economic justice and equality, they have effectively inoculated themselves against criticism. To criticize labor leaders, even from a pro-labor standpoint, is to side against the angels. Worse-in a democracy like ours-it is to side against the people. It is to back big business, often depicted in this case as a rapacious, plutocratic caricature straight out of Upton Sinclair's worst nightmares.

By consistently claiming the moral high ground for themselves, union leaders have acquired a kind of diplomatic immunity in the public eye. According to Gallup, the public favors unions over businesses 52 percent to 34 percent in labor disputes and a majority of people still believe that unions help the businesses they organize.

The facts tell a different story. Union leaders have fallen prey to what might be called the "Godfather syndrome." Almost everyone knows the story of Michael Corleone's rise to power (and fall from grace). But most significant was the fact that he began as an idealist using increasingly unsavory methods to do what he considered good and necessary. Eventually those ideals vanished, leaving only the pursuit of power and little trace of the man he once was.

This is hardly an uncommon story in public life; indeed, it is almost expected of politicians in this cynical day and age. But we assume for some reason that union leaders are exempt from the rule that power corrupts.

Their profligacy, however, should not come as a surprise. For, union leaders have greater power than most comparable figures. Politicians and lawmakers are held accountable by voters. Major companies and their managers are responsible to shareholders. To whom do union leaders answer? In theory, the democratic process should make them accountable to their membership. But that process is under serious attack.

Where once a secret ballot vote was used to establish and determine the direction of unions, organizers have now resorted to card checks, which essentially amounts to collecting names on a petition. This method is public and leaves participants open to harassment and intimidation, not to mention the room it creates for false signatures and fraudulent voting outcomes.


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