Union Recalcitrance on Race Relations

by Jack Mann on April 12, 2012

in Economy, Employment, Labor, Politics as Usual, Regulation

Recent events have exposed unions’ troglodytic views on race relations.  Basically, unions seek to preserve the current racial makeup of their workforce, regardless of changes to the area their workforce is drawn from.

Consider the example of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) in New York and New Jersey:

Last year, the Port Authority, in accordance with state regulations, asked the ILA for a list of candidates to fill 60 baggage-handler and driver positions. The union’s list turned out to have just one non-white on it.

That prompted the Waterfront Commission, which is mandated to ensure fair-hiring practices, to ask the ILA to certify that it doesn’t discriminate against minorities.

The ILA’s answer came last month: It refused to acknowledge the commission’s authority to enforce federal employment law.

Notice that the union didn’t bother denying that its hiring practices were discriminatory — after all, the New York City area is one of the most diverse in the country. Instead, they intransigently refused to acknowledge the problem, retrenching to defend its “jurisdiction,” in the words of ILA President Harold Daggett.

Further south, a pending class-action lawsuit alleges that “an entrenched network of African-American employees at Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)…is able to steer jobs, promotion, training and other career enhancing benefit to persons of their own racial or ethnic group.”

In fact, managers attribute the lack of racial diversity to “union policies.” “Unless these protected groups are already employed in the collective bargaining food chain, good faith efforts to transfer or promote them are non-existent. This scenario further creates a vicious cycle with more of the same groups being promoted or transferred,” managers wrote.

D.C. has become much more diverse over the past 35 years, and WMATA should reflect that. Unfortunately, union intransigence makes changing the system extremely difficult.

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