Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Labor Leadership & Bloated Salaries

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There is a sad truth about union-labor leadership that has bothered me for at least a decade and it explains why labor 'leaders' are so complacent in the face of dwindling enrollment.

I know that some of right wing anti-union, anti-worker, pro-corporate readers will lean back in their comfy Italian leather office chairs, satisfied and smugly entertaining a thought of "See? They're crooked! All unions are communist and corrupt. Even Shlomo admits it!" First of all, the corporate leadership in the union world is unfortunately a political issue detached from the rank and file by a series of rules and regulations designed to protect leadership. That needs to changed and I have always advocated a single-tiered set of rules for all union workers, managers, and corporate affiliates. Secondly, does internal corruption or institutional income disparity warrant ending an organization? If that were the case, every major corporation on the planet would find itself dissolved at the first hint of tax fraud, tax evasion, tax sheltering, golden parachuting, insider stock trading, wrongful discharge, racial and sexual discrimination, double billing, and consumer fraud; just to name a few of the zillion laws that corporations break every day around the globe. If corruption and illegality are your issues, and I applaud you for that, then first clean up where the biggest pile of filth lies.

One of many myths circulated about rank and file union laborers concerns salary. In the most recent study, cited in the above mentioned article, union laborers earned an average of $43K per year, far below the alleged '$100s of thousands' that some anti-union people believe. That $43k is just higher than the average mean income of American families. Let's be frank here, union supporters know very well how to critique their leadership and improve working conditions, pay, and productivity. We know the truth because we live it. We don't need arm-chair free marketeers and corporate apologists to tell bold faced lies about organized labor in order to put us down and keep us down. Besides, our leadership seems to be doing that job well enough these days.

Income and economic inequity cannot be addressed without the full and unified support of a committed leadership and a motivated rank and file labor force. Until we get our own 'corporates' in line, the rank and file will remain as disillusioned and cynical as always. It's bad enough that idealistic and greedy corporatists and their 'think-tanks' already have the upper hand in this struggle, we don't need lazy fat-cats amongst our own keeping us down, too.


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