Look closer. Think harder. Choose the sound argument over the clever one.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Betrayal, by Linda Chavez

A while ago I read Linda Chavez' book, Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics.

If you think power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, this book is for you. If you think "follow the money" to find corruption, this book is for you. If you think responsibility (with untold millions in union dues) requires accountability, read this book. When in comes to campaign finance reform, there's an elephant in the room: it's time to see it.

Here's how it starts:

Imagine you pick up your newspaper one morning and read that the Republican Party has given control of George W. Bush's reelection campaign to Halliburton.... It turns out that Halliburton is spending millions of corporate dollars--none of it collected from voluntary contributions--to finance ads and grassroots activity for the Republicans. Halliburton employees also dominate the Bush campaign staff; they are on loan as full-time "volunteers," though they continue to draw their Halliburton salaries. In exchange for the huge amounts of money and other support Halliburton is providing, the president and his staff meet with Halliburton executives to coordinate the message for the reelection campaign. More important, the GOP has granted Big Oil veto power over the Republican platform, refusing to formalize the party's public policy positions and campaign strategies until Halliburton and other oil-compaany donors have given their approval.

No doubt the nation would erupt in a furor if such an arrangement were revealed--and justifiably so.

... Amazingly, such a scenario actually played out pretty much as described--except the president running for reelection was not a Republican but a Democrat, and the powerful group pulling the strings in the campaign was not Big Oil but Big Labor.

Even more shocking, the national media and the political establishment barely reacted to the revelation that America's union bosses had systematically bought their way into control of the Democratic Party. There were no calls for congressional hearings, no outrage, no intensive media campaign.

Welcome to the world of modern American Politics. ...

Betrayal brings together decades of reporting on labor unions. It looks at their ties, methods and political influence. Here are the chapters at a glance:

  1. For Sale: The Democratic Party, the American Worker, and the United States Government.
  2. Marriage of Convenience: Unions and the Democrats.
  3. An Affair to Remember: Bill Clinton and the Unions.
  4. Putting the Public at Risk
  5. Teachers' Unions: Deep-Pocketed Protectors of Mediocrity
  6. Legalized Terrorism
  7. Money, Mansions, and Mobsters: Union Corruption
  8. Choking the Golden Goose: How Big Labor Harms the American Economy
  9. Ending the Cycle of Corruption
  10. (Afterward:) Big Labor's Big Loss in 2004

It's extensively footnoted.

Here are some things I didn't like about it:

Linda Chavez was a union official. She was also pretty far left politically, which is how I heard of her. I'm interested in stories of political conversion, and her's is an interesting one. She tells it in An Unlikely Conservative. Being an hispanic woman makes it more interesting still. But I digress.

See her web-sites stopunionpoliticalabuse.org, and lindachavez.org.


A few months ago (before I started this book) my father-in-law and I got into a discussion about unions. He's very pro-union. There were a lot of things we agreed on, and areas we disagreed. Here are my thoughts as further informed by this book.


(Please keep in mind that each commenter's opinions are only his/her own.)

Well, I deviate from the stereotypical Democrat in this regard. I believe that, at one point in time, unions were good things. They served a purpose. They were needed. I don't believe this to be so today - at least they aren't needed to anywhere near the degree they once were. I'm open to the thought that some unions are still needed, although I can't name any off the top of my head.

Unions are only part of the problem, though. Big-wig-muckety-mucks are another part. Case in point, my father's former employer.

My dad was an engineer for company X. As he was "management" he was not part of the union. When negotiations with the labor union arose, like any good negotiator, the union came to the table asking WAY more than they imagined they would actually get. The big-wig-muckety-mucks, concerned as they had been with simply keeping their fat paychecks another year and maintaining the status-quo, they gave them everything they asked for.

Later, my dad was out on the factory floor and talking with a co-worker of his who was in the union and his words were "I can't believe they gave us that! We NEVER thought they'd give us that!"

Now? The product they were most known for, the product that had decades - maybe over a century - of American development and ingenuity and history behind it, the hallmark product of the company is no longer being made. They had to cut expenses. I'm sure jobs were lost as well. The company essentially cut of it's nose in spite of it's face.

So, the Union in this case is bad, but the idiots in charge of the company are just as much to blame.

Thanks for your thoughts!

So the big-wig-muckety-mucks blew it by not standing up to the union's demands.

I work for company X. The union strong armed my boss into turning ( threatening to give all the employees books without going through the apprenticeship program.) We then opened company Y ( under his wife's name - how did we know the NLRB was made up of unions and the 3 non union seats on the board weren't filled??) We only opened co Y to finish our contractual obligations. Company Y then became a non collective bargaining agreement company. Just last week - they said close it or go to court for having a double breasted op. Which for a time we did. No matter - the money it would cost to defend ourselves would put us out of biz. We settled the case even though we weren't wrong. They still gave two men books - WOnder what the union guys who are out of work would say if they found out that their Union gave men books so quickly for closing a company that was not in competition with them!!! Anyway - I've now left both companies and started company Z A non union company. I am a minority and not related. It's not double breasted but they are already targeting me. The Union is nothing but legalized extortion!!!

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