Speak of the devil

My last post on the labor movement (surely there is a better term for something so hellbent on stasis) was so provocative that a comment poured in, so I can't resist pointing to this NY Times article about the entire Obama administration boycotting a national meeting of urban mayors in Providence because local firefighters plan to picket. Note that the firefighters are not on strike; the pickets are "educational" and arise from a decade-long contract dispute. Note also that the mayors, only one of whom is from Providence, were elected by people all over America. No one voted for the firefighters. In fact the mayors represent constituents who are, on average, probably less well off than the municipal workers they pay with their taxes. 

Besides Mr. Biden, administration officials who have pulled out of the conference include Valerie Jarrett, a senior White House adviser; Lisa P. Jackson, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator; Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan; Commerce Secretary Gary Locke; Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis; and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

A presidential spokesman said, "we have always respected picket lines, and administration officials will not cross this one." Think about this; the presumption is that union pickets are automatically in the right, even when their interests are in opposition to those of the citizenry. What if the pickets were demanding full pensions at 30? Or protesting the hiring of African-American firefighters? I hope no unions picket the White House; I would hate to see the president forced by his own policy to sleep in a tent.

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Daniel Akst

Dan Akst is a journalist, essayist and novelist who wrote three books. His novel, The Webster Chronicle, is based on the lives of Cotton and Increase Mather. More

Dan Akst is a journalist, novelist and essayist whose work has appeared frequently in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Wilson Quarterly, and many other publications.

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