Why Can’t We All Get Along….?

By June 8, 2005General

The almost saturation coverage of John Sweeney’s travails in this space sure boosted our traffic among union members and we welcome you all to the site. We’ve heard from a bunch of you, almost all of it constructive, even when disagreeing with us.

The thought occurred to us that we probably have more in common than the folks at AFL-CIO HQ over at 16th Street let on, or allow.

First, we are very bullish on manufacturing. Manufacturers have a much higher rate of union density than the workplace at large, although the public sector is gaining. In his Detroit Economic Club speech last month, John Engler called on the Senate to act on 5 bills that would release about a trillion dollars into the economy. Further, corporate cash on hand is currently at about the $1.2 trillion mark, an all-time high. Companies are holding on to their money, not spending it, because of the uncertainty out there, much of it caused by Congressional inaction. Here are the five issues: the Telecomm/Broadband bill, Energy Bill, Clear Skies, Asbestos and the Highway bill.

On virtually all of these, labor stands to gain. Yet the folks at 16th St have made some strange political bedfellows growing out of their political alliances. Along the way, they ignore the interests of their members. On asbestos, union companies are going out of business, union members are losing their retirements and union members are dying before they recover because unscrupulous trial lawyers are recovering massive sums for healthy people. Why doesn’t the AFL-CIO tell the trial lawyers to get lost and push their sick union members to the front of the line?

On the energy bill, has the AFL made an alliance with the environmental folks? We hope not. If we begin to find new sources of energy in this county, guess who will be doing the work? Union members. Guess who will pay lower prices for gas at the pump? You guessed it. And, Jim Hoffa supported drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). It’s a place the size of the state of South Carolina and they want to drill in a footprint the size of Dulles Airport. Where’s the AFL-CIO on this? Not a mention of this on their home page.

On the highway bill, we would imagine we see the world the same — lots of union jobs there. Ditto on telecomm, where broadband will unleash enormous growth in the economy. On clear skies, once again we’re for sensible regulation, not crazy regulation. Guess who would build new power plants? And, the AFL ought not throw in with the anti-coal folks to the detriment of the United Mine Workers and Operating Engineers, who take it out of the ground.

In any event, there are plenty of areas of common ground, but the leadership at 16th Street has allowed itself to be blinded by its political ambitions, to the detriment of the interests of their members. On legislative issue after legislative isue, they have made common cause with their political allies, to the detriment of their members.

Look for more on this theme in this space in the days and weeks ahead. Drop us a note if we’ve missed something.