The Union Racket

Westbrook Pegler

Spartanburg Herald-Journal/October 31, 1940

New York, Oct. 31.—All right-minded Americans, and particularly those who are now serving or soon will be called to serve in the armed forces, will be cheered, no doubt, to learn that labor’s gains, as President Roosevelt calls them, are being well maintained in the construction of various plants and cantonments—that is to say, the American Federation of Labor is profiteering and racketeering with high patriotic enthusiasm, and civilians who wish to work on such jobs must submit to extortion by various unions of the A.F. of L. A pick-and-shovel American who desires to do his bit and earn a few eating dollars for his family must buy a work license, or union membership, from the Common Laborers’ Union at from $20 up, plus dues. This union is a fine old Democratic institution, which has not held a national convention in almost 40 years, whose best contribution to labor, with an upper case L, and American citizenship, was the late Mike Carrozzo, the millionaire Chicago gunman and racketeer.

The Common Laborers’ Union, in its earlier days, was composed to a large extent of immigrant Italians who did not know they way around the New World and submitted easily to the discipline of smart unioneers who had preceded them to the land of opportunity and established themselves in politics and labor.

It is still that sort of union, but an honored member, nevertheless, of the great family of unions in the A.F. of L Its record in the Pittsburgh and New Jersey areas smells almost the same as in the Chicago field, but under the labor policy of the administration in works of national defense, it enjoys full extortion rights to bar an American citizen from employment in the government service if he refuses to shower down.

Mr. Daniel Tobin’s Teamsters’ Union, the same that created a political and industrial dictatorship in the northwest under Mr. Tobin’s appointed viceroy, Mr. Dave Beck, also is in on the racket—a fact which doubtless explains in part Mr. Tobin’s devotion to the party of humanity in the present campaign. Mr. Tobin’s union has long enjoyed the status of an unofficial and irresponsible but very severe interstate commerce commission, regulating and restricting the flow of goods across state lines and in some cases has slapped down embargoes. It is a very powerful union.

Carpenters, painters and other patriots are allowed to work on payment of initiation fees amounting to as much as $75, plus dues, and the union business agents have relieved the government and the contractors of the bother of hiring men for this work in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In some cases, thanks to the unions, the federal treasurer is given the privilege of paying much more than the prevailing wage—out of which the unions, of course, collect their tax on patriotism.

The union agents have established headquarters adjacent to the federal premises, and men applying for work are referred to them by the contractors who will not hire non-union Americans. If they did that the agents might break a few patriotic legs and skulls and hold up the national defense.

Some Americans have traveled long distances by jalopy or thumb in the innocent belief that in an emergency all they require are their skill and a willingness to work. They have discovered that the unions of the A.F. of L.—whose executive council, incidentally, is adorned by George Browne, the Chicago gangster—come before the American flag. Those who lack money for the down payment on the extortion, or the willingness to submit, are out of luck.

The unions may be a trifle harsh, but it cannot be said that even in a great national emergency they have lost their sense of humor. They are playing a great joke on most of the patriotic suckers. The joke is that they are compelled to pay the full price of the initiation for temporary jobs which will end when the barracks and plants are finished. But in the long run the joke will be on the taxpayers, who will have to furnish the money to pay the works to pay the racket of the A.F. of L.

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