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Last week saw a “man bites dog” story. Only this time, it wasn’t man bites dog — it was Democrats bite unions.
After watching their state brought to the brink of fiscal disaster by public unions run amok, House Democrats in Massachusetts turned on their union masters, Darth Vader style, voting to limit their bargaining power. (Apparently, there are benefits to a one-party state – the public has no choice but to hold responsible those in power for their incompetence.) “By spending less on the health care costs of municipal employees, our cities and towns will be able to retain jobs and allot more funding to necessary services like education and public safety,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo rightly announced.
Robert J. Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, predictably ripped into DeLeo and his fellow Democrats. Miffed that his Chester A. Arthur clone had bucked him and his Stalwart cronies, Haynes announced, “It’s pretty stunning. These are the same Democrats that all these labor unions elected. The same Democrats who we contributed to their campaigns. The same Democrats who tell us over and over again that they’re with us, that they believe in collective bargaining, that they believe in unions …” Then he concluded with typical union thuggery: “We are going to fight this thing to the bitter end. Massachusetts is not the place that takes collective bargaining away from public employees.”
There is no point in singling out the Massachusetts Democrats for their hypocrisy on the union issue – hypocrisy is a way of life in Massachusetts. There is a broader point to be made here, however, about the nature of politics across the country: as government grows, there is no way to prevent the domination of bribery in the political system.
In this instance, for example, it is obvious that Haynes expects bang for his buck, a little backscratching for his fundraising. He is incredulous that the same Democrats “who we contributed to their campaigns” [sic] would now turn on the unions. And why shouldn’t he expect better treatment? After all, unions across the country have spent hundreds of millions of dollars “converting” politicians to their way of thought. Take, for example, the state of Michigan, where unions spend millions on Republican politicians in order to buy their support. Again, this is man bites dog stuff – unions supporting Republicans? — except that such out-and-out greasing has been the union model for a century, both internally and externally.
Internally, unions run on graft. The ties between organized crime and organized labor are no secret – from Jimmy Hoffa in the 1950s and 1960s to the Laborers International Union of North America in the 1980s, unions and the mob have been tight. As former Gambino Family Boss Paul Castellano said in the early 1980s, “Our job is to run the unions.”
That pattern continues today. In 1990, prosecutors indicted the New York District Council of Carpenters and Joiners of America for bribery, among other charges. That case ended with a consent decree and a “corruption monitor.” It wasn’t particularly effective: in August 2009, Manhattan prosecutors brought charges against the New York City carpenters’ union leadership for racketeering, bribery, fraud and perjury. Not surprisingly, the leadership of the union had endorsed Mayor Michael Bloomberg just weeks before, and Bloomberg had championed the endorsement in a press release.
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