Labor Leaders as Entrepreneurs

BLUM, ALBERT A.

WRITERS and WRITING Labor Leaders as Entrepreneurs The Enemy Within. By Robert F. Kennedy. Harper. 338 pp. $3.95 Reviewed by Albert A. Blum Assistant Professor of Industrial Relations, American ...

...When Kennedy asked the lawyer about this attempted blackmail, the lawyer denied it...
...Moreover, those labor leaders who wanted to be businessmen unfortunately took over the morals of the industrialist of the 19th century rather than those of the wiser industrialist of the 20th century...
...Some unions, in fact, have left the small firms to whatever union would organize them since it would cost too much to service these small businesses...
...Hoffa did not particularly need the help of Joe Louis in this case...
...What Kennedy does not note was that these eight jurors may have been aware that the charges against Hoffa developed out of a committee headed by a Senator from Arkansas, whose great concern for civil liberties and for the right to vote within unions did not appear to extend to Negroes in his own state...
...He comes close to calling Senator Karl E. Mundt (R-S.D...
...The time for sensational exposure, so well described in Robert Kennedy's book, is past...
...The distress caused by reading how some trade union officials used violence, threats, bribery and fixed elections to achieve their selfish goals is not lessened by the fact that other groups in our society use similar means...
...For example, the UAW charged that the Republican attorney on the committee, who had been placed in charge of the investigation of the Kohler strike, had picked up a UAW official at 11 P.M...
...The AFL-CIO dragged its feet much too long on this subject anyway...
...Or perhaps the answer may be in the nature of the relationship of the worker to his job, as in longshore operations, or in the nature of the labor-management relations within a particular industry, as in the Carpenters Union, which has a long history of being charged with corruption...
...Labor leaders have taken their place...
...The story of this committee is told by its young chief counsel, Robert F. Kennedy, in a popularly written book called The Enemy Within...
...He is quite bitter about some of the Republican committee members...
...We all find it difficult to see our own unethical acts while condemning others...
...A major part of the book deals with the committee's investigation of Hoffa and with Kennedy's strong feelings about the evil influence of Hoffa and his associates in the labor movement...
...This unhappy state of affairs is, of course, mainly due to the activities of such labor leaders as Dave Beck and James Hoffa, but it is also due to the work of the Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field, more popularly known as the McClellan Committee...
...That other groups may have been corrupt is no answer to the charges made against the corrupt elements in labor...
...The Senate has just granted Senator McClellan a sum of $75,000 to continue some of the activities of his now-defunct special committee on a stand-by basis...
...and drove him around, threatening "to expose his alleged left-wing leanings if he did not turn informer on Walter Reuther...
...He then tells in far less detail of the important investigations the committee made of the Bakers, Operating Engineers, Carpenters and other unions...
...Kennedy and his associates brought to the public's attention some of the crooks in the labor movement...
...The story Kennedy tells is depressing...
...And corruption did grow...
...I would not be surprised if the attorney who lied did not justify his actions on the basis that the end, "getting Reuther," justified the means...
...it is now time for serious study...
...Of interest also is Kennedy's discussion of how his staff worked and, more important, how the Senators worked...
...Or is the explanation possibly that some of our labor leaders have assumed that trade unions are in fact businesses and consequently should make a profit...
...3.95 Reviewed by Albert A. Blum Assistant Professor of Industrial Relations, American University IN THE EYES of the public, businessmen are no longer the robber barons...
...Faced with this possibility, the Republican attorney admitted that he had lied and that "it would be very difficult for him if he were forced to admit publicly what he had done...
...The main weakness of the Mc-Clellan Committee was that it ferreted out only individual crooks...
...Are steelworkers more honest than teamsters, or might the answer not be in part the nature of collective bargaining in the trucking industryŚmore bludgeoning than bargaining...
...If a labor union official had done this, his name would have been plastered all over the front pages...
...Kennedy points out how Hoffa made use of Joe Louis and others to influence the eight Negro jurors in his favor...
...He describes only briefly (for this was all the attention the committee actually gave to this important topic) the corrupt actions of management and management consultants...
...It just helps us better understand the environment out of which corruption may grow...
...It did not seek to discover whether there were any patterns in labor-management relations that made one union more liable to corruption than another...
...For example, Kennedy spends a good deal of time discussing the trial of Hoffa for supposedly bribing an attorney on the committee's staff...
...The author's description of this fiasco, and of how some of the Republicans attempted to "fix" the case against Reuther, should have prompted the formation of a Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities of Senators and Their Staffs...
...Some of this money could well be used to secure the services of sound students of labor relations (and Kennedy by his own admission was not one) to study the problem of labor union corruption and to see what facts or patterns, if any, emerge...
...In great detail Kennedy tells the story of the Teamsters Union, from the early discoveries concerning Beck, which culminated in his successful expulsion from labor leadership, through the frustrating, still unsuccessful, fight to rid the labor movement of Hoffa...
...For this, they deserve our thanks, whatever the unfortunate effects on the rest of the labor movement...
...The UAW then insisted that the man who had been threatened be called to the witness stand...
...a liar for denying he fed stories to the press that the committee was not willing to investigate the United Automobile Workers because both John and Robert Kennedy did not want to embarrass UAW President Walter Reuther...

Vol. 43 • May 1960 • No. 18


 
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