The “Flim Flam Man” Fibs Again

mitt and the middle cloassMitt Romney told another whopper about unions the other night.

“We will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing,” he said.

Involuntary political contributions from union members are illegal.

If union officials made rank-and-filers give money to candidates they didn’t support, “they’d be thrown in jail,” said Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO.

dave suetholz

Dave Suetholz

“Unions are prohibited by federal law from using membership dues for partisan political purposes,” said Dave Suetholz, a Louisville , Kentucky, labor lawyer. He added that union members cannot be forced to contribute to candidates against their will.

Kip Phillips said Romney is flat fibbing about unions again. “I call him the ‘flim flam man,’” said Phillips, United Steelworkers international vice president at large and assistant to President Leo Gerard.

kip phillips

Kip Phillips

Phillips said union members can chip in money to campaigns by one of two methods, both strictly voluntary.

“You can negotiate a contract that has a PAC – political action committee – check off. Members can chose whatever amount they want to contribute or they can choose not to contribute. If they want to contribute, the amount is deducted from their paycheck. Otherwise, they are free to make donations on their own.

“But they cannot be coerced to give money to candidates.”

jeff wiggins

Jeff Wiggins of Paducah , Kentucky , freely gives money to candidates he plans to vote for. He’s president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council and Steelworkers Local 9447 in nearby Calvert City .

“We can give money or not, it’s up to each of us individually,” said Wiggins, who is also on the Kentucky State AFL-CIO Executive Board.

steve earle

Steve Earle

Wiggins explained: “The money that union members voluntarily contribute goes toward the candidates that union political action committees or state labor federations vote to endorse. Those votes are based on recommendations from elected representatives at the local, state and national level.”

Steve Earle said the same is true of the United Mine Workers. “We cannot compel any Mineworker to contribute to any candidate against his or her will,” said Earle, Madisonville-headquartered UMWA District 12 international vice president. “We ask for voluntary contributions from our rank and file membership. But they don’t have to contribute.”

bill londrigan

Bill Londrigan

Earle said Romney “is a union-hater and pro-corporate America . He’ll say anything to get elected.”

Londrigan said Romney is lying again “about unions as he crusades on behalf of the rich and powerful against organized labor.”

Berry CraigSuetholz said Romney is “using a [President George W.] Bush tactic of repeating a falsehood until people have heard it so much they assume it is true.”

Suetholz said he helped start the Louisville-based Kentucky Labor Institute to help combat untruths spread by “plutocrats like Romney who have to attack unions because they are the last democratic, grassroots bastion for the people impeding total corporate and plutocratic dominance of our society.”

Berry Craig

Posted: Sunday, 29 April 2012

Published by the LA Progressive on April 29, 2012
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About Berry Craig

Berry Craig is an emeritus professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360, the recording secretary for the Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, and the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War, Hidden History of Kentucky Soldiers and Hidden History of Western Kentucky. He is a native of Mayfield, Ky., where he lives with his wife of 33 years and their 20-year-old son.