Labor News Briefs


[The following items are from the web site “Labor Tuesday” for January 15, 2002. This version has been edited for Labor Standard.]

UNIONS CALL RULING A VICTORY

Back in 1996, Republicans griped that organized labor spent a reported $35 million to elect Democrats. The Federal Election Commission investigated, but then ended its probe, closing the case. Still, last July the FEC prepared to release 36,000 pages of documents that the FEC claimed showed that the Demos allowed unions a big say on campaign activities in exchange for labor donations. The Demos, with the unions’ backing went to court to halt the papers’ release. The FEC asserted that it routinely released documents from closed cases, and besides, it said, much of the information was already in the public domain. Indeed, Associated Press said that it had already disclosed the documents. On Dec. 18, a federal judged ruled that the FEC may not release the papers. “This court observes that this is a case in which, to put it colloquially, ‘What is sauce for the Democratic goose will also be sauce for the Republican gander.’” At first we wondered why the AFL-CIO officials wanted to keep secret just how much influence they have in the Demos’ high councils. But after seeing what they got for their $35 million, we figure that Sweeney and Co. are just plain embarrassed. As well they should be!

FEDS TO END TEAMSTERS FINANCIAL OVERSIGHT

“The government has agreed to relax financial oversight of the Teamsters in a move that union officials see as the first step toward complete independence after 13 years of federal supervision,” reported the Associated Press (Jan.11).

Teamsters President James P. Hoffa may say that his efforts to get the Bush administration to pull out of the union are paying off. No doubt Hoffa has been wooing Bush, who has welcomed Hoffa’s initiatives, perhaps with the next presidential election in mind. Last year, Bush told Detroit Teamsters that Hoffa was doing a good job.

Whatever the feds latest move means for the union, one thing is clear. The feds’ auditing of the union’s daily money transactions has not interfered with the union’s functioning. Case in point. The number of union officers with multiple salaries is on the rise, reversing the trend under the Ron Carey administration. Nearly 200 officers draw down at least $100,000 a year, not counting benefits, pensions, and perks. One officer’s annual pay (not Hoffa’s) was $329,045, as reported to the Labor Dept. Hoffa made $228,713, even though when campaigning he swore he wouldn’t take a dime over $150,000.