Warner Todd Huston
Union chief tries to steal civil rights movement
By Warner Todd Huston
April 5, 2011

A few weeks ago AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka used the Civil Rights movement as a comparison for his union work. He wanted his audience to imagine that unionism is somehow just like the struggles for equality under the law that African Americans sought in the middle of last century. This is a disgusting attempt by Trumka to steal the mantle of Civil Rights for his money-grubbing, union thuggery.

In Washington D.C. early in March Trumka tried to glom onto Martin Luther King's legacy and apply it to union efforts to grab luxurious healthcare and pension benefits from businesses and taxpayers alike.

"April 4 [is] the day on which Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life for the cause of public collective bargaining," he pompously said.

Not only is this simply incorrect factually it is an outrage to say that King gave his life defending unions. We all know that King fought for the basic human rights of an entire people in a nation that had cast them into second-class citizen status, not for rich pensions, unduly high wages, and free healthcare.

It is appalling for anyone to attempt to steal the long, perilous struggle for civil rights and apply that heroic effort other, lesser endeavors. Unionism is no more "like" civil rights than the so-called "war on drugs" is "like" a real war.

It's been bad enough that the homosexual lobby has claimed that its efforts equate to a "civil rights" movement, but now unions are further degrading King to cover their desires to enrich themselves.

Byron York was right to question Trumka's outrageous comments.

    But was King fighting for the things that Trumka and his union forces are fighting for today? Is, say, the "right" for well-paid, unionized public employees to enjoy a health plan that includes coverage for Viagra — a cause for which Milwaukee teachers waged a protracted court battle — the equivalent of King's work in Memphis, much less his efforts for the right to vote and access to public accommodations?

Clearly the question answers itself. To equate King's heroism to Trumka's avarice is appalling.

Sadly, this sort of nonsense is all too common today. We have so badly misused our language that words hardly mean anything any more. These days we prattle on about "sports heroes," we call reality TV goofs "stars," we label any sort of conflagration a "genocide," any old thing we want to do is called a "right," and everything is "outrageous."

The fact is that no era in America's history with unions can be likened to the civil rights era. Even when unions were making great strides in the work place rules, fairness, and legal protections for workers — and, yes, those efforts were consequential and important — those efforts pale in comparison to protecting the basic human rights of an entire race of people.

Making sure the law protects someone from being lynched is far, far more important than making sure an employee has unfettered access to free Viagra.

© Warner Todd Huston


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Warner Todd Huston

Warner Todd Huston's thoughtful commentary, sometimes irreverent often historically based, is featured on many websites... (more)

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