Sunday, February 19, 2006

Our own little hypocrites -- a teachable moment

Posted by Craig Westover | 5:03 PM |  

Okay. If we need another lesson in the point of Peter Schweizer’s "Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy," and my Pioneer Press column on liberal hypocrisy, here it is.

Minnesota Democrats Exposed publishes the letter from Jim Appleby, president of AFSCME local 2938, that was sent to union leaders urging them to withhold endorsement of DFL senate candidate Amy Klobuchar. In the letter, Appleby states that Klobuchar denigrated office lawyers publicly and privately, took credit for their work, damaged morale and "created a hostile work environment."

According to the Star Tribune, Klobuchar’s response is that --

[S]he has made many changes over the years that may have disturbed some staff members. "Has it made some people angry that I've done some things differently? Yes," she said. "My goal was to make the office more accountable to the community."

Klobuchar also said the "primary focus" of the discontent appeared to be last year's contract negotiations and the charge that she did not support the local's request for a wage increase.
So, did Klobuchar do anything wrong? Nope. She did what any executive would do when dealing with a union. She looked at her budget and took a firm stand for what she thought was good for her stakeholders. She held down wages and made some organizational changes.

Today, the parent union of the local representing people that work directly for Klobuchar, Minnesota’s largest public employee union, Council 5 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, recommended that its international union endorse Amy Klobuchar for U.S. Senate.

The blog, "DFL Senate" -- “Covering Minnesota's 2006 Senate Race from the Left Side of the Aisle” -- posts the endorsement news and concludes with a dismissive “So much for the mini-controversy surrounding this endorsement.”

Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5, went a little bit further but was just as dismissive in talking with the Star Tribune. Although he was taking the local's concerns "very seriously," according to the Strib, it also reported --

However, he said, there are larger issues in a U.S. Senate race than any employer-employee relationship. "We need a candidate who can beat someone who represents Bush/Rove values," Seide said. U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy, the Sixth District congressman has emerged as the GOP's presumptive nominee.

"The next U.S. senator will not be a direct employer of our people. But that person will make policy decisions on whether to invest or disinvest in health care, education, transportation, child care -- things Americans need," Seide said.
DFL Senate quotes Mike Buesing, president of AFSCME Council 5 and chair of its PEOPLE committee --

“Our union will commit its energy and resources to electing Amy Klobuchar because this open seat could determine the balance of the U.S. Senate.”

“We must defeat Mark Kennedy,” explained Buesing. “He and his right-wing cronies just slashed $40 billion in vital services for working families to fund tax breaks for big business and the wealthy. That means $86 million of painful cuts to people in Minnesota.”
So here’s the point -- just as liberals forgive Nancy Pelosi for not hiring union labor (when she has the opportunity and the means to do so) because she promotes the correct policies, AFSCME and DFL Senate bloggers are willing to overlook Klobuchar’s direct dealings with and sacrifice of the interests of its own union members for the sake of a “higher” political goal.

Again, that’s really fine. Nothing wrong with that. But the hypocrisy comes in when these same liberals will criticize the Pawlenty administration from holding the fiscal line on state budgets at the expense of its union members and promote legislation making it harder for private sector employers to hold the line on employee wages and benefits. When conservatives take a frim stand in dealing with a union, they’re branded with the handy “greedy” and “insensitive” tags, or as noted above, depriving people of “vital services” for the benefit of “big business and the wealthy.”

Neither Klobuchar’s actions toward the union nor the union’s endorsement of Klobuchar are wrong. What is wrong is that both Klobuchar and the union promote legislation and regulation that would prohibit others from acting in exactly the way Klobuchar acted when she was confronted with the need to balance the requirements of her "business" with the desires of union members. When push comes to shove, liberals simply cannot live by the same policies they would inflict on others.

UPDATE: Following is the official Republican Party email press release on this issue. It's a bad framing of the issue. Maybe Amy Klobuchar is a bad boss, maybe not, but this release is simply predictable, not insightful. While it may resonate with the faithful, it's just negative campaign rhetoric without much substance, and it hides the real issue -- liberals can't live up to their policies not becasue they are bad people, but becasue they promote bad policies.

February 20, 2006

Republican Party of Minnesota Calls on Amy Klobuchar to Come Clean About Her “Hostile Work Environment”

“Deeply troubling questions have now been raised about whether Amy Klobuchar has the judgment and temperament to be Minnesota’s next United States Senator.

“I call on Amy Klobuchar to be honest with Minnesotans by holding a press conference where she will candidly answer questions, including the following:

“How many grievances have been filed by employees during Amy Klobuchar’s tenure as Hennepin County Attorney and what were the nature of those grievances?

“Which cases has Amy Klobuchar actively participated in, what was the nature of her role in those cases, and how does she determine in which to participate?”

-Ron Carey, Chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota

AFSCME 2938 Blasts Amy Klobuchar’s “Hostile Work Environment”

AFSCME Local 2938: Klobuchar Took Credit For Their Work, Damaged Morale And Created “A Hostile Work Environment.” “With the U.S. Senate field clear of all but one rival for the DFL Party's nomination, Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar is facing a new obstacle: The union local representing her staff is asking that she be denied the endorsement of its parent group, the powerful American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). In a letter this month to union leaders, local president Jim Appleby, an assistant Hennepin County attorney, said Klobuchar had denigrated office lawyers publicly and privately, taken credit for their work, damaged morale and ‘created a hostile work environment.’” (Patricia Lopez, “Klobuchar's Work With Staff Is Focus Of A Union Battle,” Star Tribune, February 19, 2006)

AFSCME Local 2938: Klobuchar’s Priority Is Hiring Those “Who Support Her Ambitions.” “The local, AFSCME 2938, represents about half of the 400 employees in the office, including investigators and all 112 of its nonmanagement attorneys. … The two-page union letter said Klobuchar's management style had resulted in increased grievances, and ‘qualified personnel from her own and other public offices have been rejected because her priority has been to choose [job] candidates who support her ambitions.’” (Patricia Lopez, “Klobuchar's Work With Staff Is Focus Of A Union Battle,” Star Tribune, February 19, 2006)

AFSCME Local 2938 On Klobuchar: “She Presents Herself As A Dedicated Public Servant ... When Her Only Dedication Is To Her Own Self-Promotion.” “The letter also said that Klobuchar ‘has used the publicity from the many successfully prosecuted criminal cases to give the public the false impression that she was actively involved in those cases. She was not.’ The letter continued: ‘She presents herself as a dedicated public servant ... when her only dedication is to her own self-promotion.’” (Patricia Lopez, “Klobuchar's Work With Staff Is Focus Of A Union Battle,” Star Tribune, February 19, 2006)

AFSCME Local 2938: Rift With Klobuchar About “How Our People Are Treated In The Workplace.” “Appleby said Hennepin County prosecutors, once the best paid in the state, had fallen behind Ramsey, Anoka and Dakota counties even though their workload was heavier. But he said the union's letter is ‘not about contract negotiations.’ ‘It's about how our people are treated in the workplace,’ he said.” (Patricia Lopez, “Klobuchar's Work With Staff Is Focus Of A Union Battle,” Star Tribune, February 19, 2006)

AFSCME Local 2938 Opposed Klobuchar Endorsement In 2002. “It is rare for a DFL candidate to draw the ire of labor unions. …Appleby said his local also asked that Klobuchar be denied endorsement in 2002, when she was running for re-election. That request was ignored, he said. Klobuchar ran unopposed.”

Read More About Amy Klobuchar’s “Hostile Work Environment”

Star Tribune: <>

AFSCME Local 2938 Letter: <>
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