McManus on New York’s Corrupt DC37

Excerpts from Bob McManus column in Jun. 21 N.Y. Post:

“Once upon a time, and not all that long ago, New York was proudly and unambiguously union country. No more. As recently as 1983, more than 31% of the statewide private-sector workforce was organized – and all that it took to stir panic among New York City pols was a baleful glance from a municipal union boss. Last year, a scant 15.4 percent of New York’s private-sector workers carried union cards – and fewer than that if publicly supported health-care unions are factored out of the equation.

And as for the public-sector unions – well, the less said the better. Scarcely a week goes by without another bunch of New York City labor bigs being hauled off in handcuffs. And the investigation continues.
 Last week, Manhattan DA Bob Morgenthau indicted Al Diop and Marty Lubin of District Council 37 for ballot fraud and embezzlement. Never mind the details: If violation of moral trust were a capital crime, they couldn’t grind a guillotine sharp enough for Diop, Lubin or the 25 others who’ve already been collared. And the sainted Stanley Hill – who could have been asleep through it all, but probably not – belongs in the tumbrel, too.
 This is for sure: Nobody has Reason One to believe a word said by any union boss – least of all the rank-and-file. It’s not just DC 37: The PBA is tainted by lingering scandals of its own; the United Federation of Teachers is joined at the hip with Rudy Crew, and the hospital workers’ union seems at least as committed to Al Sharpton’s anti-cop agenda as it is to its own members.

But it was DC 37 – the city’s largest wholly public-sector union – that truly has managed to bury an honorable legacy in perfidy and greed. To be sure, Lee Saunders – dispatched from Washington to shepherd DC 37 through its agony – doesn’t see things this way. Mention the 27 arrests – the most recent, again, just last week – and he grows testy: ‘I’ve moved beyond that,’ he barked on Friday. ‘It’s your problem if you can’t.’ Saunders may actually believe this.

But if he thinks the public will be fooled by aggressive sanctimony, he’s wrong. His union truly earned the credibility problem it now has – and, however restive his members may be, he’s going into contract talks with little more leverage than a few bought-and-paid-for lawmakers and a credulous media. One might think, then, that the unions would temper their demands in consideration of what the city can afford – as opposed simply to what they might extract from the public fisc.

Think again. New Yorkers have no shame – it’s part of what makes them New Yorkers – and Saunders, et al., are no different. In that spirit, the unions are staking a moral (!) claim on the tenuous budget surpluses now being banked by Albany and City Hall. But it’s not their money. It’s the taxpayers’ money…” [N.Y. Post 6/21/99]