LaborTalk for June 21, 2011

The AFL-CIO Will Never Regain Power
By Its Blackout of Justified Criticism

By Harry Kelber

Apparently, no one in the top leadership of the AFL-CIO or the Executive Council thinks it is worthy of comment, or even mention, that 131 officers and staff receive more than $100,000 in salary and perks, and it has remained a deep secret about who decides how and why these lavish pay scales are permitted.

And the labor press, those editorial guardians of union democracy and free speech, have joined in the deafening silence by establishing their own blackout toward this newsworthy story.

And what about the officers in the AFL-CIO's lower echelons of authority? Not a peep from them. Or the union members who call themselves "activist" and progressive"? Why dont they have something to say?

How do the millions of unemployed members feel about the salaries and benefits that AFL-CIO leaders and staff have decided to pay themselves?

Are we to believe that average union members, by their pervasive silence, think that the AFL-CIO leaders and staff have earned—and deserve—their large salaries by their meritorious efforts in behalf of working people?

1,300,000 Workers Left Unions. Who Cares?

When Labor Department figures showed that 1,300.000 workers left unions in the two years between 2008 and 20010,. there was no public reaction from either AFL-CI0 leaders or activists. The usual silence prevailed.

Its incredible that weve allowed the AFL-CIO leaders to spend our dues money without any restraints, as though they owned the organization.

At the very least, we should demand the creation of an Oversight Committee to review current salary standards and make recommendations to ensure the integrity and stability of the AFL-CIO's financial operations.

* * * * *

The AFL-CIO will continue to go downhill in membership and economic strength, if its leaders insist on a policy of silence and secrecy.

Efforts to stifle debate on pressing labor issues are counter-productive. Labors problems wont go away by suppressing discussion. Criticism from members should be judged on its merits, not denied because of political considerations.

LaborTalk will be posted here on June 24, 2011 and on our two web sites and on

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