TIM SKUBICK: Not everyone is on the same page

Despite the smiles, there is dissension among the ranks in business and labor

 

Solidarity forever appears to be only a slogan and not words to live by in the labor movement.

Organized labor wants you to believe that everyone is on the same page, all fighting for the same stuff and united from top to bottom.

The business community is peddling the same baloney.

Fact is there are fractures in both movements. You just don’t read a lot about it. After all if you want to fool the citizens, you don’t let this dirty laundry wave in the breeze.

For example, several years ago the folks at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce were not overjoyed with the creation of the Business Leaders for Michigan. There were unconfirmed reports that the BLM was “stealing” members from the chamber.

The two sides never exchanged anything that looked like an internal spat, but there was enough heat around the whole thing to lead one to conclude that there was some tension.

Likewise in the labor movement. The Michigan Education Association has sometimes marched to a different drummer much to the chagrin of the AFL-CIO.

As much as they struggled to keep this all hush hush, it was oh so visible years ago when the teachers endorsed Larry Owen for governor and the UAW and others embraced Howard Wolpe. It really didn’t make any difference since John Engler was going to beat either one.

But there it was for everyone to glare at … Solidarity was a myth.

Now comes this latest story supposedly pitting the Buildings Trades union folks against the United Auto Workers.

The caller on the other end of the line offered this up: The UAW leaned on some Democratic statewide candidates not to attend a fundraiser for Shorty Gleason. Seems Democrat Mr. Gleason was not endorsed by the auto union for the House seat that he seeks in Genesee County.

The UAW nod had gone instead to Pam Farris. Not exactly a household name, but maybe you’ve heard of her husband who goes by the name of John Cherry, who used to be the lieutenant governor with what’s her name.

Mr. Cherry and the UAW have been very tight, so it seemed only natural that the union would embrace his spouse and one could conclude neither one was thrilled that the Buildings Trade union folks were behind their guy Mr. Gleason.

Now, Democrats run against Democrats all the time in primaries which is why we call them Democrats. But this one is for higher stakes because two unions are at odds over who should win.

Anyway, as the alleged story goes, Mr. Gleason had a fundraiser and invited two prominent Democrats to speak, and he was expecting them to be there.

But they were no shows and the Gleason bunch smelled a rat. Did the UAW tell the “prominent Democrats” to boycott the fundraiser and did the union threaten to withhold support for them in their bid for office if they did show up?

A UAW officials rejects the idea.

Some in the other union are not buying it.

Now, as dirty tricks go in politics, threatening and boycotting is pretty mild stuff. But the alleged incident has left a foul odor at the buildings trades house of labor.

In defense of both business and labor, they are healthier institutions by allowing some dissension and arguments, but they should not be so bashful about admitting it.

 

Tim Skubick is Michigan’s Senior Capitol correspondent and has anchored the weekly public TV series Off the Record since 1972. He also covers the Capitol and politics for WLNS- TV6 in Lansing.

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Posted by Tim Skubick

Tim Skubick is Michigan’s Senior Capitol correspondent and has anchored the weekly public TV series Off the Record since 1972. He also covers the Capitol and politics for WLNS-TV6 in Lansing.

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