Labor vs. Kerry


Not steeped in labor union politics, I don't know what to make of Andrew Stern bitching to David Broder about John Kerry. Stern heads the Service Employees International Union, a vital source of cash and legwork for Democratic candidates. Stern may simply be blowing off steam or it may signify some deeper unrest in Kerry's base that could hamper turnout on Election Day.

Reading between the lines it seems that Stern and his allies view the AFL-CIO as too wedded to the smokestack past and collective bargaining agreements. Stern seems to prefer to simply grab the state and use it to deliver European-style welfare and health care benefits to his members.


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  1. “Not steeped” doesn’t begin to cover it.

    Yes, given the name (Service Employees…), and the industries it represents, SEIU isn’t particularly wedded to the “smokestack past.” Its politics are definetely quite different from those of the UAW & other industrial unions that decades ago moved away from active organizing and into defacto partnership with management.

    But collective bargaining? First of all, do you think collective bargaining is some kind of status quo to be moved beyond in this, the most anti-labor rich country in the world?

    That “state” you so fearfully invoke has been arrayed against the right to organize (never mind “European-style welfare”) for a very long time; and the Clinton wing of the Democratic party has certainly been no help. The mindless red-baiting of your last sentence just broadcasts your ignorance.


  2. The NLRB and associated labor laws are so heavily slanted in favor of the unions that owners and managers have almost no recourse when the union uses illegal bargaining methods. Trust me on that, I have seen the union at my place of business get several ULP charges against it, and all they have to do is post a sign. If the company gets one, it costs us money. The irony is, the union we have is huge – it controls shipping on the west coast – while my company is a small, local business, dwarfed by the power of this unnamed union. Seems like we need to be protected from them, not the other way around.

  3. The NLRB and associated labor laws are so heavily slanted in favor of the unions that owners and managers have almost no recourse when the union uses illegal bargaining methods.

    Dude, you are so f***ing high! First of all, the laws are slanted against unions, something even most management-side labor lawyers will admit. (The Kool-ade drinking kooks at the Right to Work Committee are another story.) Management gets the right to go into federal court to sue unions for damages when they violate the law, but labor does not have anything close to that. And what “illegal bargaining methods” are you possibly talking about? Labor takes it on the chin in most fights, witness the SoCal grocery strike. This tired old saw that “Big labor” (whatever the fuck that’s supposed to be) runs the country is just pathetic.

  4. I think Stern’s comments are a reflection of ego more than anything else. He’s frustrated with Kerry, the Dem Party and his fellow labor leaders and found David Broder more than willing to listen to his ranting. I’m sure today he wishes he hadn’t worn that lampshade last night . . .

  5. John Q,
    You’ve never been on the management side of a union drive have you? How about blocking driveways with “broken down” trucks, or placing picket signs through the handles of doors or the blocking fire exits? What about shooting the windows out of the buildings – occupied buildings I might add? Then there is the physical and verbal intimidation, as well as the so-called “informational pickets” that amount to nothing more than an intermittant strike.
    I’m not talking about GM v. UAW, I’m talking a small, retail business being set-upon by a multinational union that makes more money in a year than my company has seen in a decade. I’m talking about ULP charges that amount to nothing more than a slap on the wrist when the union does it, but would amount to criminal charges it I did it to my workers. I’ve sat in front of NLRB investigators who have told me that while my charges are valid, there is nothing that they can do other than issue an injunction that is ignored during the next bargaining session.
    Take a look at the NLRB website and put yourself in the position of an owner or manager. Try to find something, anything on that site or in the code that protects small business’. You can’t, because there is nothing that can be done. The balance of power has shifted, and for the worse.

  6. Man, you must treat your employees like shit.

  7. Actually, Joe, we had better benefits pre-union than most unions have today. It was a choice job to get, with a waiting line in the hundreds (no exageration). Full medical, dental, vision,including alternative medicine, profit sharing, same-sex partner benefits, paid time off, education benefits, etc. This before they voted for a union. Are your benefits that good?

    These people quote Marx on their picket signs. This isn’t about their working conditions, this is about class struggle. The union bought into that since they had nothing else to organize and they needed more money in their coffers. Who does that serve?

  8. “Anon”: Name names & give some evidence or I must assume you are a troll and full of shit. You certainly don’t describe anything like the general state of labor law or the relative power of labor and capital in the US in 2004.

    For a different take on “card-check” (to PapayaSF’s National Right to Work Committee talking points) try here, among others.

  9. Michael, you can link to all the obfuscation you want, but it’s ridiculous to claim that a non-secret ballot is somehow more fair and less open to abuse than a secret ballot.

  10. This jagoff better learn to zip it or he may end up buried at Giants Stadium.

  11. The unions should love Kerry, because he has come out in favor of the horrible “card check” style of unionization election. None of that silly, old-fashioned secret ballot stuff for him! Let’s let unions know who is voting for and against them. I’m sure that information would never be abused….

    If the Republicans are smart they’ll create a TV ad saying “John Kerry opposes the secret ballot” and let him try to explain the supposed virtues of “card check.”

  12. Try this.

    Bear in mind pre contract benefits are not anywhere I can point to them on the web, but here’s more:

    There wasn’t much else in the print media about it.

  13. A “small business” that was paying for “alternative medicine, paid time off, and same sex benefits?”

    And got picketted?


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