Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Trading on Ignorance?

Bright-eyed readers of yesterday’s Washington Post will notice a letter to the editor from the well-paid Michael Sullivan, head of the Sheet Metal Workers union. Sullivan writes in response to a great column by Robert Novak — and to defend AFL-CIO top chef chief John Sweeney, who is supposedly “protecting the interests of not only workers of this country but also workers around the world who labor in unsafe conditions, receive inadequate wages and turn out products that fail to meet environmental, health and safety standards.” Wow, they’re looking out of the little guys!

But, wait, if you punch a few keys in the old google-izer, you come up with a story in which it wasn’t so long ago that union bosses were supporting steel tariffs. Those fees, essentially taxes on anything made outside the U.S., were designed to make foreign steel makers less competitive — which would definitely have the effect of ending jobs for non-American workers.

Once again, this latest round of anti-trade rhetoric isn’t about protecting foreign workers — it’s about protecting the dues dollars that flow into union executives’ offices.