Wednesday :: Feb 26, 2003

So Much For the Teamster Vote

by Steve

So much for all the ass-kissing James Hoffa Jr. has done to the Bushies lately. First, he gives Bush support for the ANWR drilling in exchange for eventual lifting of federal supervision of Teamster finances. Lately, Tom DeLay signs a fundraising mailer that slams organized labor, specifically emergency workers, thus setting off Hoffa to attack DeLay’s smear.

Now, literally in front of Hoffa’s face, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao smears organized labor with examples of union corruption:

Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao ignited a furor today among labor leaders, including the administration's strongest friend in labor, the teamster president James P. Hoffa, when she cited repeated examples of union corruption while addressing the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s winter meeting.

Mr. Hoffa criticized Secretary Chao and said labor should back a presidential candidate who understands working people, causing many union leaders to say Mr. Hoffa was distancing himself from the president.

Mr. Hoffa complained that the Bush administration was veering further to the right, and one of his top aides said the secretary's remarks were only the latest of several antilabor actions committed by the administration.

Secretary Chao stunned more than 100 labor leaders when, in a response to a question about greater financial disclosure, she read aloud for several minutes about seven criminal cases involving officials from the machinists' union. She brought to the meeting a dossier detailing union-related crimes and she read from it after Thomas Buffenbarger, the machinists' president, asked her why the Bush administration was proposing far stricter financial disclosure rules for labor unions.

"It seemed like a clear attempt at intimidation," said Bruce Raynor, president of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees. "A lot of people were already feeling angry at the Bush administration, and what she said made things a lot worse."

After Ms. Chao left the meeting, Mr. Hoffa — whom Mr. Bush once invited into the first lady's box during a State of the Union address — joined several others in voicing bitterness with the administration.

Mr. Buffenbarger, the machinists' president, said he was taken aback when Ms. Chao, in responding to his question, read details of seven cases of financial malfeasance by officials from his union.

"I felt a little appalled that a labor secretary would come to the meeting prepared to attack the labor movement," he said. "She came prepared with her book of sins. It's like Satan at the gates of hell."

Mr. Buffenbarger pointed out that the union's own audits and internal investigations led to the criminal cases against the machinist officials.

Labor Department officials acknowledged today that Ms. Chao had a dossier describing crimes committed by officials in many of the 65 unions that are part of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. Department officials said the dossier helped buttress the administration's case to require greater financial disclosure by unions. Under the proposed regulations, unions would have to detail how much money they spend each year on politics, lobbying, organizing and strike benefits and would have to itemize all expenditures above either a $2,000 or $5,000 threshold.

Why does this White House seem more like the Nixon White House every day?

Steve :: 11:17 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!