An Ethical Breach at the AFL-CIO? Gasp!

By June 2, 2005Labor Unions

We received a fax yesterday of an article from Labor Notes by William Johnson entitled, “AFL-CIO Retains High-Priced Consultants Speechwriting: $15K a Month”. This is an unfolding story, but apparently Ray Abernathy, John Sweeney’s speechwriter [insert joke of choice here] is being paid $15,000 month for his trouble. All tallied, his firm, Abernathy Associates, collected more than $330,000 from the AFL-CIO in 2001, reports Johnson. Apparently he writes speeches for Rich Trumka, too, a guy who actually knows how to deliver a speech. But as one wag wrote to us, for anyone who’s ever suffered through a John Sweeney speech, “somebody’s not getting their money’s worth”. Indeed.

OK, so here’s where it gets interesting: Ray Abernathy is married, reports Johnson, to Denise Mitchell, the head of Public Affairs for the AFL-CIO. Together, they used to be a firm called Abernathy & Mitchell. She says there was no open bidding process for these various contracts to Mr. Ray, but Johnson alleges that it constitutes a breach of the AFL-CIO’s ethical practices code. [Insert ethical practices joke here].

Watch this space for more as this story develops. We have a hunch there’s more to come on this topic, as this Labor Notes article is making the rounds.