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  • authored by lefkenny
  • published Thu, Aug 1, 2002

Unions Should'nt Be Throwing Stones

Jul 31, 2002

Organized Labour Shouldn't Be Throwing Stones

How often have you heard hypocritical union leaders preaching about honor and uncommon values? Far too often, but they are usually not called on it, especially in the press. Well, the article below tells it as it is, and lets you make up your own opinion.

The union official in the spot light is John Sweeney, President of AFL-CIO. Sweeney, who represents 13 million U.S. workers and more than $5 trillion in pension funds, says labor unions will increase their push for accountability by meeting with executives, leading shareholder fights, holding demonstrations, lobbying and starting electronic mail campaigns.

David Kendrick, spokesman for the National Legal and Policy Center that tracks union corruption says:

"We certainly think it's hypocritical for union officials to talk about protecting workers' investments when many of these international union presidents took advantage of insider rules to make a nice profit for themselves that their rank and file weren't entitled to,"

Not only is it hypocritical of union officials to preach about the conduct of corporate ceo's, but even more so to preach about a need for increased accountability of corporate executives. Sure the AFL-CIO pension funds lost $3.3 billion in the bankruptcies of Enron and WorldCom, but Sweeney is not disclosing all the money lost in pension funds by other unions through their own doing.

How hypocritical of union leaders like the President of United Food and Commercial Workers International suing the web site ufcw.net for their statements about the need for greater accountability of unions. Ufcw.net delves deep into the conduct of union officials including the area of union pension losses, where the United Food and Commercial Workers Union has had its fair share of huge pension loses in its own pension fund.

There is no doubt that corporations need to be more accountable, but surely union leaders should not be the ones throwing the stones.

aboutunions

Greed is the target, AP

NEW YORK - The president of the nation's largest labor organization called on union workers to mount a grass-roots campaign against corporate greed.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney yesterday counseled hundreds of union workers, who cheered him in a patchwork of colorful T-shirts touting their union locals, to find strength in their numbers to lobby lawmakers as well as corporate and financial leaders to clean up corporate America.

"The sad truth is that American consumers can shop with more assurance of quality and safety at their corner grocery store than American investors can shop for equities in our stock market," Sweeney told the crowd assembled across the street from the New York Stock Exchange.

A string of accounting scandals has tarnished some of the United States' largest corporations, felling once mighty companies such as Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc.

The fallout from revelations of corporate malfeasance has shaken investor confidence, pummeling stocks and pension funds.

Former employees from Enron, Arthur Andersen LLP and WorldCom flanked Sweeney on the steps of New York's Federal Hall National Memorial and shared their stories while asking the government for GREEDtough corporate legislation.

The AFL-CIO would lead a push to get the Securities and Exchange Commission and the NYSE to require higher corporate standards. Sweeney planned to meet with the head of the exchange after the rally.

Specifically, Sweeney endorsed a proposal being debated to force publicly traded companies to expense the stock options they give CEOs. Currently companies have no such obligation and have lavished millions of shares on top managers, diluting the value of existing shares.

Sweeney also said CEOs should be prohibited from selling their shares in their company while they're in office, removing incentives to pump up the stock in the near term regardless of future consequences.

Sweeney harshly criticized the former leaders of Enron, Global Crossing and WorldCom, who sold millions of dollars worth of shares just before their companies spiraled from billion-dollar businesses into bankruptcy protection amid disclosures of questionable accounting.

But organized labor shouldn't be throwing rocks, said David Kendrick, spokesman for the National Legal and Policy Center of Falls Church, Va., which tracks union corruption.

"We certainly think it's hypocritical for union officials to talk about protecting workers' investments when many of these international union presidents took advantage of insider rules to make a nice profit for themselves that their rank and file weren't entitled to," Kendrick said.

The Justice and Labor departments are investigating allegations that several union presidents improperly profited and used their positions on the board of the labor-owned insurance company, Ullico Inc. Ullico had millions of dollars invested in Global Crossing, another company under federal investigation. Several board members cashed out with large profit before the company crashed.

Sweeney is a Ullico board member but did not profit from a sale.

The complete story can be found at: timesdispatch.com

ullico.com seattletimes.nwsource.com

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