This past year was one of the most tumultuous in memory. Widespread economic collapse, social and societal upheaval, violent riots, an acrimonious election cycle, and a worldwide pandemic are just a few of the major sources of upheaval.
These sorts of massive disruptions to the norm create opportunities for change and improvement. Some use those opportunities productively to work for solutions that fix real problems and improve lives. But sadly, many use these disruptions to cynically advance their own agenda while feigning concern for the plight of others. Unfortunately, organized labor falls into this latter group.
In a time when so many Americans desperately want a job and a way to fund the hopes, dreams and aspirations of their family, too many union leaders are slamming the door shut on the very people they claim to serve. To make matters worse, too many union leaders are also padding their own pockets and working to advance their own power and influence at the expense of their members.
Here are a few recent examples. Dennis Williams, the former president of United Auto Workers (UAW), pled guilty to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the union. And this scandal was preceded by his successor at the UAW, Gary Jones, admitting that he helped steal more than a million dollars from union workers. That’s a bad trend line!
James W. Cahill, a powerful and politically well-connected union leader, was indicted on racketeering and fraud charges. Federal prosecutors allege that he and others accepted bribes to aid companies that had hired nonunion labor. So the charges include accepting under the table money to work against your own members. But we are supposed to believe that the union is working to help union workers.
Chuck Stiles, the Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste and Recycling Division, has allegedly been taking large annual payouts of $65,000 for a “phantom job” on top of his $150,000 annual salary. These allegationsdon’t come from some union-hating critic, they come from an active member of the Teamsters Union. On top of that, there are allegations that Stiles’s son has also received a difficult-to-explain $10,000 payout from union funds.
This sort of double self-dealing, if true, is very troubling and it raises the question — are these unions really representing their members or are they simply pretending to, and then enriching themselves while carrying on the charade.
The cynicism doesn’t end with corrupt payments or self-dealing. For example, Stiles has decided to try to leverage the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement to increase support for the struggling labor movement. Yet the labor movement has not historically been the friend of racial minorities. And Stiles has no history of supporting minority candidates or causes. Interestingly, a public photo of Stiles in blackface has also recently emerged. So the idea that Stiles has some deep commitment to helping blacks or other minorities is a little hard to swallow. It is a fair question to ask — how serious and how sincere is this newfound interest in minorities and their economic welfare?
More than five million manufacturing jobs disappeared from the American economy between 1999 and 2011. The exodus of good paying jobs continued through 2016. China was the single biggest factor. This massive jobs exodus harmed working-class blacks, yet BLM has been silent on China and refused to support policies that would reverse our economic losses to the Communist Country. Instead, they’ve focused on odd conspiracy theories about obesity and diabetes in the black community — as if that has been more consequential to black employment and poverty than jobs being exported abroad.
Given all that has transpired, when BLM and unions claim to be teaming up to protect and promote the interests of working-class blacks, a huge dose of realism is needed. Who actually benefits when unions “team up” with BLM but they both refuse to actually do what is needed to promote good paying manufacturing and other skilled labor jobs? It won’t be minority workers.
Someone who claims they support workers, must point to how they’ve helped make real improvements in the lives of workers — more jobs, higher wages, etc. This is not the track record of unions or BLM in the past two decades. They have done a good job of enriching themselves and raising money and obtaining political power for themselves. But where is the evidence that they have done anything for the average American worker — black or white? And why haven’t they supported policies that have actually worked and benefited American workers — and particularly minority workers?
These questions answer themselves. Both unions and BLM do more posturing than actual good, and they are teaming up hoping to hide this inescapable truth so that they can continue to prosper while feigning concern for those they claim to represent.
Following the shooting of a man who allegedly threatened two police officers with a knife, Philadelphia has become the latest site in the ongoing racially-motivated protests, riots, and looting that have marked 2020.
Walter Wallace, a 27-year-old African American, was shot to death by police in “The City of Brotherly Love” who said he refused orders to drop his weapon and advanced on them. His death, the latest in a series of police-related incidents that started in Minneapolis and over the last few months have fueled wanton destruction of public and private property in Seattle, Louisville, Portland, Washington D.C., Richmond, Va, Atlanta, and other cities.
The destruction that is becoming near-commonplace has put the issue of police conduct squarely in the center of the national conversation. President Donald J. Trump repeatedly denounces the activities of the rioters and has taken steps to rein in their campaign of terror. Former Vice President Joe Biden, on the other hand, continues to be somewhat lackluster when attempting to repudiate the violence and those who commit it. More than once he has made it clear that he, like his running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, supports many of the stated objectives of those who consider themselves members of the movement known as Black Lives Matter.
Biden and Harris have, for example, repeatedly seconded many of the BLM’s comments and criticisms made on social media including the charge the nation is “systemically racist” and have mimicked the movement’s calls for policies that advance racial “equity” in place of equality. Yet the Democratic presidential candidate has remained strangely mute regarding The BREATHE Act, the passage of which through Congress has been defined by some as the chief goal of those who have taken to the streets in protest.
The legislation, which has been endorsed by several prominent House Democrats, could see early action early in the next session of Congress if Biden wins the presidency and his party takes control of the U.S. Senate while retaining the majority in the House of Representatives under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
In October the American Principles Project, a non-partisan organization, released a report that took a deep dive into The BREATHE Act, examining its implications for law enforcement and other areas of public policy. The group concluded the bill, which is being marketed as an aggressive and thoughtful approach to the problem of police brutality is in reality “a radical left-wing wish list” that includes provisions that would turn the nation on its head.
Among the provisions found by APP in the bill are:
“Joe Biden should answer some simple questions: Does he support the BREATHE Act? Would he sign it into law? If the answer is no, which provisions does he disagree with? Does he support establishing reparations commissions? Would he get rid of federal law enforcement? Would he abolish prisons? Would he provide criminals under the age of 24 with total immunity from prosecution for crimes they commit? Would he fund abortions and sex changes? Which parts of the BREATHE Act does he support, and which parts does he oppose?” asked Terry Schilling, executive director of the American Principles Project upon the report’s release.
Needless to say, each of these provisions is well outside the American mainstream. This may be why Biden has been less-than-forthcoming in his comments on the proposed legislation. His endorsement of any or all of these radical ideas raises significant questions about his vision for the nation’s future.