Wednesday, September 03, 2008

AUD Proposes Democracy as a Weapon Against Corruption

PRESS RELEASE -- Association for Union Democracy, Inc.
September 3, 2008
Media Contacts: Herman Benson, Kurt Richwerger (718) 564-1114 (AUD)
AUD Proposes Democracy as a Weapon Against Corruption

In today's New York Times, the Service Employees International Union announced plans for an internal ethics commission to address recent corruption charges facing several top union leaders. The union indicated that it would consult the Association for Union Democracy as part of its efforts.

The Association for Union Democracy is very willing to bring our forty years of experience to bear in assisting the SEIU, but what the SEIU faces is a moral crisis involving both democracy and corruption.

We believe it is essential to ensure protection for democracy and dissent within unions. Our experience shows that democracy is the linchpin for preventing corruption.

An internal panel of the kind proposed by SEIU President Andrew Stern would simply mull over the niceties of still another code and would be more than a waste of time; it would be an evasion. What the SEIU needs now is to establish a board composed of respected individuals, independent and completely outside the union power structure - a kind of supreme court endowed with the power, in defense of member rights, to overrule decisions of the international president and the international executive board in those circumstances in which members' democratic rights could be endangered.

The need is not to devise a code of ethics, the need is the genuine practice of democracy. The basic code of ethics was delivered on Mount Sinai in the commandment "Thou shall not steal." Everything else is a refinement. If the SEIU feels it needs an amplification of its own code to remind its officials of that commandment, it need only copy one of the many excellent codes already available. The problem in the SEIU is not that it lacks an ethical code, but that it has evolved a bureaucratic system of organization and, despite any code, has created an atmosphere of authoritarianism that obviously spawns corruption.

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