Joining union not the answer for Macon police

I’m not a fan of most politicians. I disagree with political parties more than I agree with them. I do not know Councilman Erick Erickson and do not write this column to support or condemn his recent statement of anti-union animus. I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions from the evidence.

So, here it is.

The Telegraph recently published a photo showing city employees expressing their views at a City Council meeting. One of the folks in the picture held a sign referencing SEIU — the Service Employees International Union. On Oct. 6, the Washington Post, which is hardly a conservative paper, had this to say about SEIU: “The SEIU and ACORN have long worked closely together, with the union paying the association more than $3.6 million in the past three years and sharing some office locations and leaders with the group.” In case you have not heard, ACORN is a community organization that recently was caught using federal funds for a variety of illegal purposes.

The Post said this: “The SEIU’s parent organization has paid ACORN for training, voter registration and other organizing work, and SEIU locals have paid ACORN affiliates for their services, according to union reports. ACORN founder Wade Rathke was a top member of the SEIU’s board until last year and founded two SEIU locals — in Chicago and New Orleans. SEIU President Andy Stern serves on an advisory panel that was supposed to help ACORN fix financial problems after an embezzlement was discovered last year. Other leaders have served both ACORN and the SEIU, including Keith Kelleher, who headed SEIU Local 880 and also held an ACORN staff position, and whose wife ran the ACORN office in Illinois.”

Now, it’s your money. It’s your business if you want to give it to SEIU. But don’t be surprised if you are judged by the company you keep.

How does SEIU treat its own members? The most recent stats from the federal National Labor Relations Board show that, between 1998 and 2004, there were 3,910 Unfair Labor Practice charges alleging violations of labor law by union officials filed against the SEIU. It could be worse. The Teamsters had 6,909 charges filed against them during the same period. That’s the group that wants to represent the Macon Police Department.

In 2005, the NLRB reported 6,381 charges against unions. Eighty-two percent of them alleged illegal restraint and coercion of employees. Five hundred ninety four of the charges alleged discrimination by unions against employees. Since 2000, labor unions faced 13,815 complaints of race, sex, age, disability and religious discrimination filed with the EEOC.

In 2005, the federal Office of Labor-Management Standards reported 114 new indictments and 97 criminal convictions of union officials for embezzlement, making false reports and other federal crimes. That same year, the Department of Labor’s Inspector General opened 103 new racketeering cases against union officials, referred 88 cases for federal criminal prosecution, obtained 322 new indictments, received 196 new criminal convictions and was awarded $187.9 million in restitutions, forfeitures and civil monetary actions.

Does anyone else feel less secure when they hear talk of law enforcement officials joining an organization that is frequently the subject of federal criminal investigations? Our police deserve respect, but they won’t find it sleeping with the Teamsters.

Bill Clifton is a management employment lawyer in Macon with the national labor firm of Constangy Brooks & Smith.