News

The Path to Public Service at SEAS

News

Should Supreme Court Justices Have Term Limits? That ‘Would Be Fine,’ Breyer Says at Harvard IOP Forum

News

Harvard Right to Life Hosts Anti-Abortion Event With Students For Life President

News

Harvard Researchers Debunk Popular Sleep Myths in New Study

News

Journalists Discuss Trump’s Effect on the GOP at Harvard IOP Forum

Laborious Task

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

It was only a few years ago that the romantic young man of action could close his eyes and envision himself a fearless union leader. With a small army of the down trodden but upright marching behind him, he would brave the company goons who surrounded the steel factory where wages were worse than working conditions and the boss beat his wife. But even the most wishful of modern day dreamers cannot avoid thinking that a union leader is a paunchy, jowelled man with a cigar in his right fist and a Madison Avenue lawyer in a tweed suit at his left elbow.

As organized labor has grown in size and efficiency, its problems have expanded so much that they cannot be solved by a shotgun or a long heart-to-heart with an enlightened boss. Labor's problems, indeed, have grown so large that the combined exertions of a Senate Subcommittee and the AFL-CIO may not suffice. Unethical and illegal practices have had had so many years to entrench themselves in organized labor, that citations for contempt of Congress and the AFL-CIO's ethical practices code are merely a first, if difficult, step in the right direction.

Both Congress and the AFL-CIO have had most of their trouble with the million-and-a-half member Teamsters Union. The Senate Subcommittee searched valiantly for a Teamster official who would testify, but by the time their jurisdiction was established, teamster boss Beck was in sunny Nassau and now tours Europe. There is hope, however, that he will testify later this spring.

When the AFL-CIO Ethical Practices Committee passed a code outlawing rackets and racketeers from its member unions, the Teamsters union began to take action on its long threatened plan to quit or at least undermine the AFL-CIO. As John O'Rourke, head of the New York local put it, his boys would cross the picket lines of those unions which "spend all their time kicking our brains out."

Such an attitude puts the AFL-CIO in a precarious position. If they continue their drive to clean their own house, they stand a good chance of dividing it. Nevertheless, the housecleaning, painful as it may be, must take place. If the Senate Committee, state agencies, and federal agencies like the Interstate Commerce Commission would move into high gear, labor's work could be done more quickly and more efficiently.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags