Organized Labor, Political Corruption and the Fleecing of the Union Member
During my decades long career in the Construction Union you needed to attain a certain # of worked man hours to qualify for healthcare coverage. If you work anywhere from 70% to 12 months out of the year you easily meet your threshold and sometimes quadruple it. When I asked my rep” Why do you continue to take out funds after I meet my qualifying number?” The answer was ” Well it goes into a general fund that is used to help other members meet their threshold so they can be covered as well”. Now to me that is a fine and noble act. BUT 1 Problem: In decades of working in a Union NEVER have I ever even heard of this being the case. Any member in need of hours at the end of the cycle had to BUY back into the system with their own money to be covered. When I confronted our union reps at a meeting over this blatant act of malfeasance a near riot occurred. Chairs and tables and fists and bodies were flying. I felt like I was in the middle of Sally Field’s Norma Rae / Sylvester Stallone’s F.I.S.T. Violence and Bedlam ruled the night. I had indeed struck a nerve.
Later that week I was called into the office of the company I worked for at the time. I was told never to go to another union meeting again. I asked why? and the response was ” Andy we like you here and think you are a great worker and don’t want to see anything happen to you”. I immediately recognized the veiled warning. Thankfully the Company I was working for was one of the largest and contributed millions into the union coffers. Therefore I did have this implied umbrella of protection over me but even so I was never to do anything like that again because this was the lifeblood of union activity.
What activity would that be? Well we all know about the executive vacations and conventions all over the country. The very large 6 figure salaries enjoyed by all reps. Cars, phones, computers, opulent office digs and that lovely expense accounts for the thousand dollar meals. Many times after these events they were legal expenses due to DWI arrests. This is Fact : Carpenter Union NYC/ Even the lawsuits and their legal expenses were paid for by the union. Sound outrageous? It IS! But it was only a mere ” Scratching of the surface” the REAL CRIME was the purchasing of Political influence. Monies drained from annuities, healthcare, Pensions and of course union dues were used for this very purpose. Even today this happens with complete impunity as if they have a license to do it. If a member asked ” I want to see where my union dues money and funds were going to especially regarding political campaigns” usually the answer was ” Don’t worry about it …you like working don’t ya?! well shut the F-up and let us do our job”. Ordinarily it usually ended there but for the very inquisitive like myself I would ask ” I do not want my dues going to any political campaign unless it is one I support”. This was a 3rd rail subject that only someone with a Death Wish would pursue. Well that’s the backstory when it comes to Unions and political Corruption. It’s always the member breaking his back in the field trying to provide for his family who gets screwed. So to sum up you have to keep your mouth shut and go and help the campaigns we tell you to and no more questions about ” Where does my money go” because the alternative is – Blackballed How do I know this? Because it happened to me.
Andy Sullivan Blue Collar Hard Hats