Those Labor Leaders, They’re So Passive!

By January 23, 2008Labor Unions

This column by labor activist Harry Kelber has been making the rounds, attacking the major unions as scaredy cats, which is better than running dogs, we suppose, but still not a compliment. Kelber says groups like the AFL-CIO and Change to Win are counting on the Employee Free Choice Act, i.e., card check, as their salvation and selling point. But that’s a cop-out.

Despite their rhetoric, unions don’t seem to be in a hurry to launch campaigns that reach out to large masses of unorganized workers, nor have they developed new strategies to replace those that haven’t worked. It’s easy to blame corporations for the lack of organizing progress, but you rarely see union leaders blaming themselves for costly blunders. Indeed, even union members rarely know what’s really going on among the top rung of labor leaders, who are habitually silent and unaccountable.

Ouch. But not really fair, Harry. Look at all the effort and dollars the SEIU is expending this year.

Service Employees International Union officials on Friday said that the issue of universal health insurance will top the policy agenda for the group in 2008, CongressDaily reports. According to SEIU Treasurer-Secretary Anna Burger, the union this year plans to spend at least $75 million, in large part to pay about 2,000 members to take leave from their jobs to advocate for the agenda. Burger added that SEIU will leave the infrastructure in place after the 2008 election to lobby lawmakers to address the issue of universal health insurance “within the first 100 days” of the new administration.

See, that’s some serious organizing effort, membership drive…oh, yeah, right…not really. It’s a political campaign to elect candidates committed to imposing a lousy single-payer health care system on the American people.

But you’re too, too harsh, Harry.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Poor Mr. Kelber.

    For some strange reason, the union bosses hate this 90-year old man who has devoted his life to their cause for being honest.

    After eight years in the union movement, Harry Kelber was a source for my graduating paper in college. As a young, naive devotee of the unions at that time, I was appalled when he told me that when he worked for IBEW Local 3 in New York, they fired him when he criticized the leadership of the union’s leaders.

    Over the years, as I’ve read Mr. Kelber’s writings–which have always maintained their honest criticisms of the labor boss-bureaucrats, it has always intrigued me how he still remained so devoted to today’s morally bereft and hyprocritical union movement.

    It was interesting that, twelve years after he was a source for my college paper, he was again swatted down for his brutal honesty–this time by my former alma mater, the CWA.


    Why Harry Kelber has remained so unabashedly devoted to a cause that has rejected him is mind boggling.

    Harry Kelber is but one of the many reasons that I realized that today’s union movement is so thoroughly corrupted at the top, the pious labor bosses morally bankrupt and two-faced.

    In a small way, Harry Kelber helped me see the light.

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