‘Bosses’ tag wrongly used

The phrase “union bosses” has been popping up in the pages of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Such a tired old phrase it is, too! For most of the previous century, the words were used by managements to discredit union organizing drives, to undercut strikes and to break union ranks.

For the Journal Sentinel to regress to use the terms as it did in an Oct. 26 “No Quarter” column by Daniel Bice is not only distressing but it’s dishonest and terribly biased. The words appeared in a headline: “Union bosses, wealthy donors spend big for Mary Burke, Scott Walker”

Bice and the headline writer took the words directly from the Republican chieftan here, Joe Fadness. How sad it is to follow the Journal Sentinel during this election campaign as its pages seem to take every campaign utterance of the Republicans and play it for all it’s worth. Two examples are noteworthy: the charge of plagiarism on the copying incident and the acceptance of two ex-Trek executives questioning Mary Burke’s record at Trek. Both were campaign sleeze, pure and simple, and the Journal Sentinel should have treated them for what they were, instead of blowing them all out of proportion.

Now, in the Bice headline, the use of the word “bosses” is certainly pejorative, connoting cigar-smoking, fat, corrupt and disgusting humans. On the other hand, the Journal Sentinel declared the Republicans had “donors,” a far more benign term.

Union leaders throughout history – as well as those of today – have been responsible to creating a movement that most economists would say made it possible for Americans to have a relatively thriving standard of living; that of course has been threatened by the weakening of our unions since the 1980s.

Admittedly, there were some corrupt leaders, but even most of them – as they fattened their wallets – provided a better life for their members.

Most union leaders came up from the ranks of the workers they now represent; most lead lives struggling to pay the mortgage, to get their kids through college and to keep their lawns mowed during work weeks that kept them on the job for 60, 70 or 80 hours. They care about the future of this country, about an education system that is being ravaged in the name of privatization, about a planet that faces environmental devastation, about continued racism, among other issues.

Union leadership work was always controversial when they seek to bring about change; their work should be examined and criticized when warranted, but it should be faced upon facts.

A newspaper that has paraded around as a paragon of virtue for the community at least owes union leaders the right to far treatment. If union leaders are “bosses,” why are their wealthy opponents “donors?”  Ken Germanson, Nov. 2, 2014


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