Magazine article The Masthead

A Look at Labor and More

Magazine article The Masthead

A Look at Labor and More

Article excerpt

The arrival of Labor Day has a special significance for NCEW this year. Shortly after this holiday, members will gather in Pittsburgh to discuss work-related issues, from labor unions to energy deregulation to new technologies.

Whet your appetite for the September 12-15 conference with this edition of The Masthead. (Late registrants: Call headquarters at 301/984-3015.)

We include an interview with one of the conclave's key speakers, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney. The questions are drawn from responses to a query I put on the listserv asking members what they would like to ask the long-time labor leader.

Sweeney, who came up through the ranks, is known as being both militant and conciliatory, seemingly contradictory but not necessarily. The militant label stems from 1995, when as president of the Service Employees International Union, he led janitors in a sit-in that blocked rushhour traffic in Washington, D.C. That same year, he used his consensus-building skills to win the presidency of the AFL-CIO.

The affable Sweeney answered all but one question The Masthead posed. That question was about AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Richard Trumka, who was alleged to have diverted union dollars to the campaign of Ron Carey when he was running for Teamsters president in 1991. Later, Trumka pleaded the Fifth Amendment when questioned by Justice Department officials.

Using the Fifth to avoid questions is a violation of union rules, and Trumka should have been removed from office, said some NCEW members. …

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