If you want to propose a scheme for saving the labor movement, stand in line. UNITE is there before you with a plan which begins by sequestering a vanishing clothing union into a rising hotel union. The Carpenters are ahead of you with their version: obliterating the collective bargaining rights of members and locals and turning authoritarian powers over to a small group of regional fuehrers.
Now come the Teamster leaders with their own idea. It must be important because it was highlighted in the New York Times on what must have been a slow day for labor news. Teamster leaders are unlikely candidates for showing the way; they can’t even keep their own union free of racketeers. RISE, the Teamster self-reform effort, fell apart when Ed Stier, its sponsor, charged that the union administration was blocking his efforts to take action against crooks.
The Teamsters want the AFL-CIO to refund to the internationals half of their per capita payments. Now there’s a proposal that’s bound to be popular. It has all the persuasive power of Bush’s plan to reduce taxes. Give the Teamsters, and some other union leaders, more money and they know what to do with it. The Teamsters for a Democratic Union offers statistics to show that as more money comes in as dues, it vanishes into the the double-dipping salaries of officials who have been generously paid.
TDU wants money that is already available to be directed into organizing, not diverted into higher pay and perquisites. There’s a plan. It won’t save the labor movement. But it has this virtue: it can’t hurt. It might even help.