Organized labor is increasingly concerned about grievances arising out of official and unofficial security programs. The legal departments of many unions have urged their locals and district offices to judge workers on their records and give them union backing in their fights to defend their constitutional rights, jobs and good names.
During a recent Government security hearing, a union district director appeared as witness for one of his union's members.
The Hearing Board officer asked him: "Why are you getting so excited? We aren't accusing the union of anything. The union isn't under attack."
The district director answered: "Well, one of our members is and when that happens, it means the union is too." Without the backing of their unions, Jim Schuetz, Clayton Dechant, Merton House, John Lupa and many others might still bear the brand of "risk" and "un-American." But the process of hearings and appeals is expensive and complicated. Legal fees alone often run to well over $1,000. Most workers just don't have that kind of money. And a lawyer is essential to gather the necessary information, call witnesses, help an accused person understand regulations and conduct his defense.
Cost and complication are only two of the many reasons why more workers have not fought to establish their innocence in the past. A man denied clearance may not want to spread the word around. He may be ashamed to tell fellow workers; he may want to protect his children from unkind slurs in the neighborhood. He may, like many other fine people, have an old family skeleton in the closet which he would rather not bring forth to embarrass relatives or friends.