The American labor unions have been around for sometime in our history, beginning with the construction industry that boomed after the Civil War in urban districts. The unions began as craft organizations, localized, and by 1900 had spread across the United States with little opposition. Union history has been violent and corrupt, various degrees and periods of time. Like coastal tides, corruption and criminal activities have risen and lowered during the course of that history.
|Samuel Gompers and Company
The late 1800s was the gilded age
of American capitalism and the power of corporate enterprise had become an element for public view as a philosophy of acquisition.
[ John Hutchinson, Imperfect Union; NY 1970; pp. 19-26]
Unions were initially an economic ideology, not a means of social reform, but a bargaining entity for the betterment of skilled workers who were offered little benefits and little bargaining power with their employers.
Unions also developed, after 1900, lobbying power and used the tool of bribery to influence legislatures and judiciaries; which in turn increased their power and influence. Union counted on loyal members and coercion and thuggery became tools to make it remain so.
There was violence between anti-union elements and those workers who had decided to stand up against union ways of doing business.
I am tired of hearing about laws for the benefit of men who work in the shops.
Some legislatures sought to restrict union rights because of the growing corruption and power of trade unions.
Trade unions, like politics, had become a way to personal enrichment, bribery as a means to establish power and income.
Collective bargaining was preferred, the basic tool of unions, and was more production than strikes.
In the late 1800s local government in the United States had gained notoriety for its corruption; political and industrial dishonesty coinciding. It was the heyday
of party bosses, corrupt political machines, and coercion within the law enforcement establishment.
|anti-Tommany Hall Cartoon
|Public tolerance finally spent itself and major companies came under the scrutiny of legislatures and law enforcement officials, who were not bought off. The first was uncovered in New York City within the Tammany Hall, headquarters of the Democratic Party of NYC. Its influence in city politics and corruption earned a reputation as being the worst-governed city in the United States.
Tammany Hall was not entirely corrupt. The organization assisted newly arrived immigrants to settle in their adopted country, but even then there was the underlying agenda to increase its voting base – the price paid for their assistance. At the time voters would be threatened at the polls and dissidents and supporters of Republicans found themselves unemployed due their disloyalty.
Intimidation required cooperation of the police in order for it to be effective. The Police Commission was controlled by Tammany Hall, which led to the New York state senate to appoint a special committee led by Senator Clarence Lexowto investigate the NYC Police Department.
The most fruitful enterprise of corruption was the construction industry that was rapidly expanding with New York’s growth and other major cities like Chicago.
In 1902 the construction trade unions in New York City combined to form the United Board of Building Trades
, a powerful organization with only the bricklayers being unaffiliated. Extortion became part of the tools of the trade unions
, and in 1903 New York newspapers began to report the increase in corruption, and in June of that year, Samuel J. Parks
was arrested on a charge of extortion brought by Hecla Iron Works
who claimed that Parks had demanded $1,000 (a lot of money then) in order to keep industrial peace within the ranks of labor. When Hecla refused to pay, Parks caused the firms 1,200 trade employees to strike at a loss of $50,000 to Hecla Iron Works.
Parks was released on a $5,000 bail one day after his arrest and the union put up $1,000 for his legal defense. With the help of Assemblyman Richard Butler
, a resolution was called to condemn District Attorney William Travers Jerome
for prosecuting Parks – and it worked.
The stronger a union is, the more it acts like a private state, secure in its power and with little overt need to use violence. Local culture and ideology play a large role because the response of local police, courts, and politicians to union aggression is pivotal. By 1810, union tactics were fully formed: bargain “collectively,” demand fixed minimum pay rates, enforce closed shops, stage strikes with picket lines, scab lists, strike funds, and traveling cards, and promote unity among skilled and unskilled workers and solidarity among locals of the same trade.
Some view the rise of socialism in America that has infiltrated our political and educational system as something new, but it is not. Between 1850 and 1900, Mises history of unions:
Nearly everything was tried in some form or other during this era: socialism, syndicalism, anarchism, cooperatives, political unionism, and, the most seductive idea of all, the welding of everybody (barring bartenders and bankers!) into one gigantic union. Some were secret societies with names like the Knights of St. Crispin, the Molly Maguires, and the Knights of Labor. Yet the main adhesive of British and European unions — easily aroused class antagonisms — was absent in America, and Marxist-style sentiments about the plight of the working class never became the dominant mood, contrary to some historical accounts. More often, American pubic opinion was horrified and disgusted by outbreaks of labor violence and union disruption of production, especially if the outbursts had revolutionary overtones.
Gangsters became a prominent ailment in major cities of America, especially New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and even New Orleans during the 19th century; most city gangs being poorly organized and local.
Policemen dare not arrest them, district attorneys as a rule have not the courage to prosecute them, and few judges will pronounce a sentence upon them.
On January 16th, 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution went into effect, which prohibited the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors; that represented government’s intervention into matters pertaining to society and individual freedom of choice. The result became the infamous Roaring Twentiesor ProhibitionEra when the violent gangs became more organized when led by savvy leadership. Unions also flourished during this period and organized crime lords began to see that unions provided another means of revenue along with making, transporting and selling liquor out of secret night clubs calledSpeakeasies.
The Gangs of New York, made famous by the filmof the same name, were prolific in the early part of the 1800s; with names like Roach Guards in 5-Points, Manhattan, Plug Ugliesin Baltimore, Maryland, and Dead Rabbitswho were originally part of the Roach Guards and the rivalry resulted in the Dead Rabbits Riot that lasted two days of street fighting. Primarily Irish gangs, they were centralized in an area called 5 Points.
Within that period, mobsters found that controlling union leadership was not only profitable, but afforded them more opportunity to have assets within the political and judicial local governments. To the more intelligent gangster leadership it was an opportunity to branch out into the “legitimate” business sector and thereby affording them the opportunity to circumvent the new income tax laws that came about in the 1930s, which allowed them to hide their ill-gotten gains. Later, corrupt banking systems and bankers, especially offshore, would also be a means to “launder” ill gotten money, especially from the sale of illegal drugs on the street. In some form or fashion, the organized crime leadership had infiltrated the already corrupt trade unions; controlling the clothing and trucking industry as well as the waterfront of major port authorities through its control of labor.
As the corruption increased, so did arrests, even after Prohibition ended and the collapse of the Stock Market in 1929.
During the Great Depression, Congress legislated six major bills concerning labor that favored unionists that revolutionized labor markets: Davis-Beaconin 1931, Norris-LaGuardia(1932), National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 that became known as the minimum wage law. The Democratic Party had become deeply entrenched and rubbing elbows with the corrupt entities ruled by unions and racketeers, and in the FDR era became infiltrated by socialist influence.
The depressed economy didn’t deter the trade unions, indeed it presented a golden opportunity to obtain members from the ranks of job hungry Americans. During this period the unions expanded into the theatrical business as well as becoming international by crossing the border into Canada and forming the International Unionconglomerate.
After the second World War ended, unions organized the culinary workers and coin machine operators another extension of revenue for unions in the United States.
A successful committee member became a union boss, whose name was James Riddle Hoffa, known as Jimmy Hoffa. Definitely tied in with the criminal syndicate element, he disappeared in July 1975 and never has been found, although several theories have persisted even today.
With the teamster union becoming international, a brotherhood was formed and grew to be the largest in the United States.
The AFL-CIO merged in the 1960s, based in Chicago.
Since 1960, a sharp decline in union influence has come about in Western countries, which includes the United States. As the Mises Institute wrote in its history:
While the overall rate of decline has recently slowed, the decline in private sector union membership has been partially concealed by union growth in the public sector. Between 2000 and 2008, for example, BLS data show a decline in unionization among privately employed wage and salary workers from 9.2 million to 8.3 million, and an erosion in union density from 9.0% to 7.6%. Private-sector membership peaked at 17 million in 1970, so in total membership has fallen by over half since 1970. Membership among government-employed wage and salary workers grew modestly from 7.1 million to 7.8 million since 2000, with a stable density of 36.9% in 2000 and 36.8% in 2008.
PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS
Public-sector unions are on pace to claim an absolute majority of union members in a traditionally private-sector-dominated labor movement within a few years. Government jobs constitute the “healthy” part of organized labor where external competition provides little or no discipline against union inefficiency, costs, and privilege. From 900,000 union members in 1960, government membership rocketed to 4 million by 1970, nearly 6 million by 1976, and 7 million by 1993, with a growth slowdown to 7.8 million by 2008.
We can thank President John F. Kennedy‘s Executive Order 10988for the promotion of unionism in federal bureaucracy, which he signed in January of 1962. iJFK had received a considerable amount of campaign support from unions. Government bureaucracy expanded increasingly since then. It has been proven that unions, a private entity, has been part of the issues of government expansion that has culminated into today’s economic crisis. Mises Institute:
First, when labor combinations or cartels capture monopoly control over whom employers can hire and impose higher wage rates, the number of jobs available in these companies and industries declines. This is the simple result of the law of demand: when unions raise the price of labor, employers purchase less of it. While an increase in labor productivity can partially offset higher labor cost, labor productivity cannot be raised cheaply or it would have been done already. Unions are clearly an anti-competitive force in labor markets.
Second, workers priced out of work by unions remain unemployed or obtain jobs at nonunion companies. A larger labor supply depresses wage rates there, so union wage rates come partially at the expense of lower nonunion wages.
Third, cartels flourish only where rewards are high and organizational costs low. Historically, highly paid craft workers (known as the “aristocrats of labor”) organized instead of “downtrodden,” low-wage workers because they met two conditions:
Union wage rates often decreased employment relatively little because demand for skilled workers was “inelastic,” that is, employment levels were relatively “insensitive” to changes in wage rates, at least in the short run.
Craft workers also could organize at low cost because they were few in number, had a common mindset, low turnover, and few or geographically concentrated employers.
The National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation (Mark Mix) wrote an email to me with the following information:
Union militants have threatened and harassed the courageous charter school teacher who is leading the fight to defend Wisconsin’s new government-sector Right to Work law. … WISN-TVin Milwaukee reported that “she had been blistered by negative and vicious emails and phone messages at school and on Facebook, including one suggesting she get protection. Some militants even launched a “Fire Kristi” campaign. …Wisconsin union bosses tried every tactic imaginable to protect Big Labor’s monopoly bargaining power over Wisconsin government employees. They shut down schools, bused in out-of-state agitators, and demanded their allies in the state legislature flee to Illinois to delay a vote. Then the union bosses wasted millions of dollars – of their own members’ forced dues – on a failed recall campaign to install a pro-forced unionism majority in the Wisconsin Senate. Union hotheads bombarded the Kenosha, Wisconsin teacher with threats because she refuses to toe the union-boss line. The onslaught of harassment and threats picked up after Lacroix exercised her First Amendment rights and appeared in a TV commercial supporting Governor Scott Walker, who signed the reforms into law. … Foundation attorneys are prepared to take all appropriate legal actions to defend Lacroix, and if necessary, provide for the security of her and her family.
In 2005, the National Right to Work Foundation hired 24-hour security for a North Carolina worker who received detailed threats after he successfully challenged a sweetheart deal between his employer and the United Autoworkers (UAW) union. Union goons routinely employ violence and terror tactics against innocent workers who dare to speak their own minds. …
It is beyond time to remove unions, a private sector organization, from its parasitic and powerful influence within our state and federal government. This action taken in Wisconsin represents a possible beginning to do so across America, and clearly demonstrates that unions with their big money and strong-arm tactics cannot win against We the People. For government is for We the Peopleand not union bosses or any other organized entity that promotes government that is not constitutional.
Executive Order 10988 and any legislation that pertains to it on congressional record must be rescinded. Unions cannot be allowed to control labor within government.
It is questionable that the candidate for presidency, Mitt Romney, has the intestinal fortitude to perform such a task. We can only go by his past record, and that shows that although he is clearly a person with character, he chooses the “comfort zone” when it comes standing for constitutional government. He and others may call him a “moderate” – but in truth he is a RINO.
However, it is clear that Ron Paul, a Republican treated like a third-party candidate during the primary elections is the man for the job. If the delegates of the state conventions can see this, he may have a chance to be on the ticket for running against both Romney and Obama in a landmark political move that is all legal. It hasn’t been done before because no one had the incentive to run against the GOP political establishment who is clearly NOT for reform, but instead wants Washington to operate its business as usual; masking sellouts as “bipartisanship”.
Constitutional law should never be compromised. It is about time that elected officials owe up to their sworn oaths upon taking office that they will protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and abide by its articles and amendments.
And, in an unrelated circumstance, check out Jefferson’s Rebels poignant and compelling article concerning the corruption of this Executive administration and the demands to know the facts by members of Congress (which is their job), and instantly brings to mind the major question —
Why isn’t Eric Holder being fired?
Why isn’t impeachment preceedings being fast tracked into Congress?
JFK won the 1960 election with the help of mobster Giancana
and his father’s, Joseph Kennedy
, connection from prohibition era with the old mob leadership.