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It was great to see Leo Gerard, the Steelworkers’ international president, tee off on a tea party honcho on The Ed Show.

leo w gerard

Gerard turned out to be a close encounter of the worst kind for Judson Phillips, Tea Party Nation founder. Phillips is a reactionary who has suggested bringing back property requirements for voting. He dissed the Methodist Church , to which he once belonged, as “the first Church of Karl Marx ."

Oh yeah, Phillips also hates unions and loves to play poodle for plutocrats like the Koch siblings.

“You guys are busy protecting millionaires and billionaires,” Gerard told Phillips, who appeared with him on the popular MSNBC TV show. “You’re busy protecting folks who are paying 15 percent on their tax while people like me and the people I’m privileged to represent are paying 30 percent. Come on, get real.”

With time running out and Phillips sticking to his claim that rich people create jobs and need big tax breaks, Gerard sunk him with a parting shot: “You tell me that the head of an insurance industry that paid himself $400 million created a job, you’re smoking rope, Jack.”

Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, all but cheered when he watched Gerard kayo Phillips on the tube:

“Kudos to President Gerard for challenging the claim by the so-called tea party representative that the tea party speaks for working Americans. This is the same lie that the tea party perpetrated on the electorate in the past election and gave us the despicable [Kentucky Republican Sen.] Rand Paul and so many others."

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Londrigan concluded:

“President Gerard called out the tea party as a front group for millionaires and billionaires like the Koch Brothers who have used the call for less taxes and smaller government to attack unions and shift greater and greater financial burdens onto the backs of working Americans. All of labor needs to stand up against these tea party provocateurs and expose this so-called movement for the front group it really is - just like USW President Leo Gerard did.”

Jeff Wiggins, a Steelworker and president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council echoed Gerard and Londrigan:

"What Leo Gerard said is coming straight from the membership. The tea party is for the working class? Oh yeah, right, I can feel that.

“The tea party is funded by those billionaire brothers and is all for giving big tax breaks to the richest people in this country and to large corporations. Oh, I can feel that, too. So can the millions of Americans who don't have jobs.”

This AFT-card carrying teacher hopes more union officials will take off the gloves and take on tea party brass hats like Gerard did.

Berry Craig