Union Corruption in US Labour Movement
Union corruption has been a major issue in the Labour movement, in the USA. The term Labour Movement is indeed a very distinguished term which defines the complete growth of the union & the organizations of the working people (Leonnig, 2004). Beginning of the Labour Movement started at the time when industrial revolution was at its peak in the USA, when jobs related to the agricultural sector started declining, and at the same time the need of employment increased abruptly. In 1864 started the first attempt towards this movement in London, following this in 1871 labourers, in France rebelled which led to the formation of Paris commune. Later this movement gained impetus in 19th & early years of 20th century. Many labour parties & unions were formed along with which increased the union corruption.
In spite of the effort’s to combat union corruption, it continued to survive because of many serious reasons. This union corruption was largely the result of that long standing system of representation and forced dues that were collected by the unions. After an extensive research and hearing the president of the commission of USA; organized a report on the union corruption in Labour movement was developed. As a result of the same, a total of four unions were listed, which included the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), Labour Union of North America (LIUNA), Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE), International Longshoremen's Association (ILA). Out of this the Teamsters were kept under complete supervision of the federal government.
Out of the four unions who were reported to be the most corrupt unions, Teamsters were considered to be the creators of the union corruption. The teamsters were a massive organization, and it had a large number of people, which was around 1.9 million. This union included the employees from various fields, such as, employees of the state and central government, the truck drivers and the transport workers. During the presidency of Cornelius Shea, the teamsters were found to be very badly involved in corruption & it was found that it worked more like a criminal organization. Later in 1905 Teamsters worked for the support of tailors who were locked out ward in Montgomery but than it was surprisingly discovered by the newspapers that their wonderful President Shea lived in a brothel where he kept a 19 year old girl as his mistress & had spent some strike hosting parties, because of the support from a general public collapsed & the strike ended in the year 1905. Even though people knew of this reality Shea got elected as the President of Teamster in the year 1906. To stop these corrupt activities, strict action was taken against Teamster and with this the Justice department filed an RICO Suit against them. Following the same, the union was plunked under complete government supervision. A large number of members were removed as a result of the reformation & the president too was also found involved in a large number of scams. He was found to be involved in a scam of $885,000 in the victory, in the 1996 re-election. Also, his director was involved in a number of cases related to the fraud, perjury and conspiracies. After the year of the RICO, around 12 members were found liable for the cases. The teamsters were also found to have the deals with the underworld. Thus, they were involved in a large number of activities that were related to corruption. They gave a damn to the federal laws and did not care for any consideration against them for supervision. Even in the days of federal supervision, they did not ingrain to the laws and the policies. They worked as a Mafia company and broke all the channels of ethnicity and values. Thus, they were largely responsible for the corruption in the Labour movements. In the year 2000, 55 cases were charged on Teamsters various incidents related to assault.
Later on, various other people such as President George Cashmen were also found to be involved in scams that included a scam of $72000 and another scam in which he established a collision with a USA Based truck company where the company had to direct 100000$ of their business. He was sentenced to prison. In the year 1940, Dave Beck was elected as the Vice President. He was very influential; people tried to bring him down but failed to do so. He allied with his rival Jimmy Hoffa & seized the control of the entire union.
Jimmy Hoffa was a president of the labour union from the year, 1957 to 1971. In the early part of his age, he was a union activist. He was the one to secure the very first national agreement for the teamsters in the year 1964. He also played a wide role in the growth and development of the union and proved to be the most contributing factor in the Teamsters. Under his leadership, there were a total of 1.5 million people. Other than this, he was also involved in criminal activities from the earlier days of his working in Teamsters. He was charged many times and several cases were filed against him for Jury tampering, attempted bribery, and fraud. He was even imprisoned in the year 1967 and was sentence for 13 years. He resigned as the president of Teamsters in the year 1971(Pinzur, 2003). He had been charged against fraud & for the improper use of pension funds of Teamsters and was also charged for illegally arranging the pension funds for loans. Michael Bane, who was an old friend of Hoffa and had good relations with him, although he was involved in corrupt activities but was still supported by Hoffa. Donato DeSanti was also charged with being involved in pension fund looting. In spite of that he was elected as the Vice President in the year 1998. No action was taken against him.
Hoffa was released from prison in 1971, but he was imposed restrictions and was restricted from participating in any kind of union works till 1980. He was displeased with this decision & thus he accused this decision in the court but lost the battle there. He suddenly disappeared in the year 1975. Many people assumed that he was killed in the year 1975.
Thus over the years, corruption has inevitably followed the Unions. Though initially, they were constructed in order to make reforms by the group of sincere and honest people, who wanted to do certain reforms effectively. But they were totally disillusioned as a result of increasing rate in the capitalism. Following this, the union leaders began to concentrate on the ways to fill their own pocket. With the increase in various career options and opportunities for the workers, unions started to exploit the workers in return of promoting their bureaucratic interest. The labour class, then, continued to be exploited by the capitalists. The unions started to do strikes, over and over again where they claim to fulfil the need of the labour, but it was actually and endeavour to fulfil their own wishes. In these unions, a large number of workers had to sacrifice for the purposes. Corruption in the unions was alone enough to oppose the meaning of the word "UNIONISM" as they have been constantly betraying the workers over and over again and have been upholding the interests of the communists and the union leaders.
Labourers: Similar to teamsters, labourers, were another union group who did not accept federal supervision over them. They were also involved in corruption activities. RICO Complains was drafted against 39 members of the labourers, including their president, Arthur Koia Jr (Mozingo, 2003). He was found to be involved in the incidents of looting the funds of the Union welfare. There were charges filed against him. Thus, labourers were another union that was involved in corruption.
The union corruption leads to several inhuman activities such as killing, molesting and other practices, such as invasion of money, theft, etc. In addition, there has been an increased underworld influence and crime.
Capitalist over exploitation of workers continues to these days even. Division in labour product is a struggle even in today’s era. Possibly unions only made the survival of workers in groups to resist all kinds of exploitation. Unions led to the division of working class people instead of uniting them. Union Corruption over the years has been responsible for many other unwanted consequences in the United States. First of all, the Union corruption has reduced the demand for the formation of the unions and for the union membership. The workers have understood that there is a wide decrease in their overall benefits if they go for any union membership. So as a result of this union corruption, a large difference in the numbers of union membership was observed in all the states in the USA.Thus, we see that a corruption proved to be a major issue for the labor Union and resulted in the set back of the labor union. The labor unions had to withstand the problem of corruption although there were several laws against it. It has almost been 50 years since John F Kennedy initially condemned all corrupt leadership activities in the American Labour Movement, still we see the labor unions be plagued by all rampant corrupt activities.
Carol D. Leonnig, "Judge Delays Reporting By Unions," Washington Post, January 1, 2004; Associated Press, "Judge Delays Union Dues Rules," Washington Times, January 3, 2004.
George F. Will, "The Stiletto's Sharp Idea," Newsweek, May 12, 2003.
Neil Irwin, "Unions Invest $50 or More in Ullico," Washington Post, October 2, 2003.
Matthew Pinzur, "Bank Demands UTD Repay $1 Million Loan Now," Miami Herald Online, April 30, 2003.
Manny Garcia and Joe Mozingo, "Union Paid for Chief's Opulent Lifestyle," Miami Herald Online, May 18, 2003.