Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Sept. 7, 2004 / 21 Elul, 5764

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

State of the unions ... 10 minutes with Linda Chavez


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Linda Chavez, President Bush's original choice for secretary of Labor, knows all about how labor unions work and how — despite their steadily shrinking membership — they corrupt politics by funneling their members' dues into the coffers of the Democratic Party.

The syndicated JWR columnist, talk show host and FOX News analyst used to be an official with the American Federation of Teachers. She also worked as a civil rights administrator in the Reagan administration, where her distaste for affirmative action first earned her the enmity of liberals.

In the media and political firestorm that followed the revelation in January 2001 that she had harbored a battered illegal alien women in her home, Chavez asked President Bush to withdraw her name from nomination as Labor secretary.

With her new book, "Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics," (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) just out and Labor Day nigh, we thought we'd talk with Chavez.

Q: Are there good unions and bad unions, and what's the difference?

A: Well, I think the reason we've seen the big change in labor unions is because more and more unions today represent government workers. About one in two members of the AFL-CIO works for one level of government or another. I think that's had a very bad effect on unions. It's made them much more political. And frankly, it's also harmed the rest of us, because the influence of those government unions has had a dramatic change and raised taxes and led to bigger government and bigger government programs.

Q: What do you mean when you say the Democrat Party has become a wholly owned subsidiary of "Big Labor"?

A: First of all, unions represent the biggest contribution of manpower and money into the Democratic Party today. This election cycle, unions will spend around $800 million trying to defeat George W. Bush and elect John Kerry. Most of that money does not come from voluntary contributions to political action committees, which I have no problem with.

If people want to voluntarily give money to whatever candidate, I think that is their constitutional right. What I'm talking about is the use of union dues that many people pay as a condition of their employment being siphoned off and used to fund the Democratic Party to the tune of, as I say, close to $800 million this election cycle.


Donate to JWR


Q: What is this "corrupt bargain" between Democrats and Big Labor?

A: Well, in order to stay in power, Democrats use and need union money. If it were not for the huge, massive infusion of dues from union members into the coffers of Democratic candidates and the Democratic Party, I don't think you would have seen an election nearly as close as it was in 2000. This election cycle, you have got one union alone, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) that has committed $65 million to defeat George W. Bush and an additional $35 million from one local of that union alone, Local 1199 here in New York City.

I call that a "corrupt bargain" because essentially the Democrats then become beholden to labor unions, and because so many union members work for one level of government or another, they're actually funding and putting in office the people who sit down with them at the collective bargaining table and bargain with them. Teachers unions, for example, notoriously get involved in school district elections for school board, elections for mayor.

Q: What would be examples of the damage this "corrupt bargain" creates?

A: You don't have to look very far in Pennsylvania to see what the municipal unions did to the city of Philadelphia. They essentially bankrupted the city by driving up the cost of municipal services by insisting on a ridiculous array of benefits, including essentially a day a week off — 52 days paid vacation — and other kinds of leave that was written into union contracts with the city. It drove the city of Philadelphia into junk bond status in terms of its bonds and literally almost drove the city out of biz.

Q: Why is what unions do to influence the Democrat Party any worse than what businesses do to influence the Republican Party?

A: There is a big difference between the way unions operate and the rules that apply to all other organizations, including corporations. Corporations cannot give corporate money to the party or to candidates. That is a violation of campaign finance law.

Unions, however, can take union dues — money that people are paying as a condition of employment — and use that money to put political operatives into campaigns. The SEIU is doing it this year to the tune of 3,500 members. They can use that money to print up campaign brochures and pass them out. They can use that money to set up phone banks.

All of that is legal with one proviso: Unions are required, number one, to declare the money they spend on politics on their tax returns. The problem is that most unions today do not declare that money.

Q: What would be the most important reform in federal law to remove the privileges that unions have?

A: The most important reform that could take place is one that I work on with my organization, Stop Union Political Abuse. And that is, I would restrict the rights of unions to use their dues only for the core purposes of their union — collective bargaining, organizing members, negotiating contracts and administering those contracts.

The second reform that I think goes hand-in-hand with that is better disclosure and better monitoring of union financing. Corporations under the security exchange laws are required to have independent audits of their books. I think unions also ought to have independent audits, and they ought to have full disclosure of how they are spending their money so their members know that money is going to the core purposes of the union instead of being siphoned off into politics.

Q: Does the Republican Party have the will to do what is necessary?

A: Well, unfortunately, with the Democrats and the Republicans being roughly 50-50 and with unions being smart enough to give about 5 percent of their contributions to Republicans, there are just enough Republicans who will join with Democrats to stop reform.

We're simply asking for the same kind of rules to apply to unions that currently apply to corporations. We're not asking for unions to be treated more harshly. We're not asking for unions to be stifled in their ability to express their political point of view, but it all ought to be with voluntary money.

And hopefully with more of this word getting out, and I'm hoping that my book will have an influence on getting that message out, we'll turn around some of these folks in Congress and, who knows, we might actually get a bill through Congress the next time around.


Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.




JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.

08/26/04: The Lincoln few Northerners know
08/23/04: Steroids & 'fairness' … 10 minutes with bioethics expert Norman Fost
08/13/04: Contrary to popular belief ...
08/10/04: The IRS & the $250 billion question … 10 minutes with House Speaker Dennis Hastert
08/09/04: Tight scripts and loose cannons
07/27/04: Still George McGovern
07/06/04: High time to eliminate drug laws?
06/28/04: Iraq: ‘Mission impossible’ ... 10 minutes with terror expert Yossef Bodansky
06/22/04: Get ready to rumble ... 10 minutes with Michael Barone
06/11/04: Ready for the 'fair tax'? 10 minutes with …Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss
06/08/04: Wal-Mart is an undeserving whipping boy
06/01/04: So, what is a 'neocon'?
05/17/04: Editors play armchair general
05/04/04: Chasing tornadoes; how modern day sports photography was born
04/29/04: Rigged for the rich ... 10 minutes with author David Cay Johnston
04/27/04: Are the 'Greens' killing blacks?
04/19/04: A moving, if skewed, tribute to rock
04/11/04: Stay the course in Iraq ... 10 minutes with Oliver North
04/05/04: Iraq needs 'social capital' ... ten minutes with Ray Salvatore Jennings of the United States Institute of Peace
03/31/04: Congress must come to terms ... ten minutes with Rep. Dick Armey
03/22/04: How to win the terror war ... 10 minutes with terrorism expert Steven Emerson
03/16/04: Religion, spiritual freedom & Ronald Reagan … 10 minutes with author Paul Kengor
03/10/04: America's materialism keeps world in tune
02/24/04: Our new epoch in history ... 10 minutes with philosopher/political thinker/novelist Lee Harris
02/20/04: Vanity Fair, SI sink lower than ever
02/13/04: A rare libertarian among Big Media liberals — up close and personal with John Stossel
02/10/04: Young innovators changing the rules
02/03/04: Now, the election fun begins … 10 minutes with Charlie Cook
01/30/04: Dem Dems
01/16/04: Caucuses bore you? You're not alone
01/14/04: Paradise lost? Ten minutes with … Victor Davis Hanson
01/09/04: Howard Dean week?
12/26/03: How is the magazine sector doing?
12/17/03: 10 minutes with Thomas Sowell
12/15/03: Journalism 'watchdog' displays bad reporting
12/09/03: Book lovers are losing a good read
12/05/03: 'South Park' has unlikely audience tuning in
12/03/03: An odd lot of 35 'heroes'
11/24/03: 'We'll learn the truth someday' … 10 minutes with JFK expert Cyril Wecht
11/18/03: Exposer of the idiocy of bureaucracy and the threat to individual freedom posed by government … Ten minutes with author James Bovard
11/14/03: Two stories examine Wal-Mart's domination
11/07/03: The real Rumsfeld … 10 minutes with author Midge Decter
11/05/03: Lights! Camera! Fudge!?
10/31/03: The straight dope on hate, drugs, Jon Stewart
10/24/03: See what federal $$$ does?
10/21/03: Esquire recalls its glory days
10/14/03: A 784-page biography hatchet job that only Clinton-haters will love — published by Random House? Ten minutes with Nigel Hamilton
10/10/03: Bush adviser girds for a tough fight ... 10 minutes with Mary Matalin
10/07/03: Forbes gives advice on making rich list
09/30/03: A 20th Century American tour
09/26/03: Reagan's life in letters
09/24/03: Bin Laden and Boy Bill
09/22/03: Dennis Miller makes funny business of politics
09/16/03: Famous 'bad girls' clear the air
09/12/03: Ben Stein gets serious: Davis is a 'thug in a gray flannel suit'
09/09/03: Smart(-Alecky) mag's very different 'swimsuit issue'; Murdoch might not be as bad as we thought
09/02/03: Ex-teacher lambastes our schools
08/25/03: Vanity Fair strives to be more than glamorous
07/22/03: Title IX's original intent … Ten minutes with Eric Pearson
07/11/03: Vanity Fair dishes it out on JFK Jr., N.Y. Times
07/09/03: Why Ben Franklin should be the "Father of Our Country" ... 10 minutes with Walter Isaacson
07/07/03: Honoring nation's first celebrity superstar
06/27/03: Reader's Digest can't help but act its age
06/24/03: Dick Morris, consultant for hire, reveals the inside story
06/20/03: Move over, Hillary. Here comes a better work of fiction
06/10/03: Publications take us away from Middle East
06/03/03: Dear graduates: Work for freedom … 10 minutes with Penn Jillette
05/30/03: National Geographic goes to the top of the world
05/23/03: Editors dabble in history, fiction
05/16/03: The Old Grim Lady gets covered
05/09/03: Political parties fighting over Iraq's wreckage
05/07/03: 10 minutes with a big-city Dem mayor who loathes budget deficits, the federal highway program, taxpayer-funded sports stadiums and the meddling (and aid money) of Washington
05/02/03: Are you sufficiently terrified?
04/29/03: Finally, a president defending American principles in the Middle East ... 10 minutes with Alexander Haig
04/25/03: Newsweeklies starting to lose interest in Iraq war
04/21/03: There's bias, and then there's bias
04/11/03: Planning future of Iraq, world
04/04/03: Newsweeklies come back with graphic look at war
03/28/03: Newsweeklies try to keep up with TV war coverage
03/26/03: Wen Ho Lee whistle-blower says beware of China
03/21/03: America's ready for war ... and peace
03/18/03: Baseball limping, not dead … 10 minutes with author Andrew Zimbalist
03/14/03: Vanity Fair gets us ready for month's big event
03/11/03: A road map for Iraq's liberation devised by James Madison? … 10 minutes with James S. Robbins
03/06/03: Iraq war will come and go before we know it
02/28/03: America takes time out for swimsuits
02/26/03: 'We shall be seen as liberators' .... 10 minutes with noted Brit commentator David Pryce-Jones
02/21/03: Terrorism one of many losing battles
02/14/03: Editors planning for the day after Gulf War II
02/12/03: The 'religiosity' of Ronald Reagan … 10 minutes with author Paul Kengor
02/10/03: Should the shuttle crash be the end of NASA?
02/06/03: Dear Joan ...
01/31/03: Newsweek, Nation ponder pros, cons of Gulf War II
01/24/03: 'Original' ideas follow New Deal philosophy
01/22/03: When handicapping 2004, watch the economy: Ten minutes with … Charlie Cook
01/17/03: New Republic fans hatred for SUVs
01/14/03: 10 minutes with Santorum on ... taxes, steel and Lott
01/10/03: Newsweeklies move on to latest menace
01/07/03: The best of the Q&As
12/30/02: Rosie's demise tops list of 2002 highlights
12/23/02: GOP must stick to its principles: 10 questions for ... Bill Kristol
12/20/02: Lott fiasco uncovers bigger problem
12/18/02: Free markets king in Sweden, at least for a day: Ten minutes with …. Donald Boudreaux
12/13/02: Corruption of Indian casinos no surprise
12/06/02: Giving credit to young philanthropists
12/02/02: Ten minutes with …. Chris Matthews
11/26/02: It's critical to memorialize communism's victims: 10 minutes with … Lee Edwards
11/22/02: JFK's secret health woes are revealed
11/19/02: “It's best to contain Saddam”: Ten minutes with … Col. David Hackworth
11/15/02: Brushing up on the affairs of a wild world
11/12/02: Make Dems filibuster … 10 minutes with … Robert L. Bartley
11/08/02: National Geographic: Urban overpopulation is good
11/05/02: The bloody consequences of a broken INS: Ten minutes with … Michelle Malkin
11/01/02: Going to pot; thank heaven for media overkill
10/29/02: It's all about federalism: Ten minutes with … Jonah Goldberg
10/25/02: Frank Sinatra, Kurt Cobain, Mad Magazine will never die
10/22/02: Here's why Orwell matters: Ten minutes with … Christopher Hitchens
10/18/02: The sniper knocks Iraq off the covers
10/15/02: Iraq, oil and war: 10 minutes with ... economist/historian Daniel Yergin
10/11/02: England's gun-control experiment has backfired
10/04/02: Buchanan the media baron?
09/27/02: Analyzing Esquire, GQ is not for the squeamish
09/20/02: CEOs: The rise and fall of American heroes
09/13/02: Skeptics remind U.S. to calm down
09/10/02: 'A failure to recognize a failure': 15 minutes with ... Bill Gertz
09/06/02: Rating the 9-11 mags
08/30/02: Bad trains, bad planes, and bad automobiles
08/28/02: Baseball, broken, can be fixed: 15 minutes with George Will
08/16/02: 9-11 overload has already begun
08/13/02: Tell us what you really think, Ann Coulter
08/09/02: A funny take on a new kind of suburb
08/02/02: It's not the humidity, it's the (media) heat wave; the death of American cities
07/12/02: Colombia's drug lords are all business
07/09/02: If capitalism is 'soulless' then show me something better: 10 minutes with … Alan Reynolds
06/25/02: Origins of a scandal: 10 minutes with … Michael Rose
06/21/02: 9/11 report unearths good, bad and ugly
06/18/02: The FBI is rebounding … 10 Minutes with Ronald Kessler
06/14/02: U.S. News opens closet of Secret Service
06/11/02: 10 minutes with … William Lind: Can America survive in this 'fourth-generation' world?
06/07/02: America, warts and all
05/30/02: FBI saga gets more depressing
05/13/02: The magazine industry's annual exercise in self-puffery
04/30/02: 10 Minutes with ... The New York Sun's Seth Lipsky
04/26/02: Will the American Taliban go free?
04/23/02: 10 minutes with ... Dinesh D'Souza
04/19/02: Saddam starting to show his age
04/12/02: Newsweek puts suicide bombing in perspective
04/09/02: How polls distort the news, change the outcome of elections and encourage legislation that undermines the foundations of the republic
04/05/02: Looking into the state of American greatness
03/25/02: The American President and the Peruvian Shoeshine Boys
03/22/02: Troublemaking intellectual puts Churchill in spotlight
03/20/02: 10 minutes with ... Bill Bennett
03/18/02: Suddenly, it's cool again to be a man
03/12/02: 10 minutes with … Ken Adelman
03/08/02: TIME asks the nation a scary question
03/05/02: 10 minutes with ... Rich Lowry
02/26/02: 10 minutes with ... Tony Snow
02/12/02: Has Soldier of Fortune gone soft?

© 2002, Bill Steigerwald