Posted by Achance (Profile)
Sunday, September 20th at 1:34PM EDT
Promoted from diaries. – Moe Lane
For those who haven’t read my bio, my background is in collective bargaining and employee relations. I cut my teeth on the union side as an understudy to an old-time liberal Democrat trade unionist. His mantra was, “Before they do anything, make sure they think about what you’ll do about it.” After a stint in the private sector, I went to work for the State government representing the employer in dealing with labor unions. That is actually very common in both public and private sector labor relations since the union side is the best place to get good, hands on training in labor relations practices.
I began working on the employer side at the depth of the depression brought on by the oil price crash of ‘86. Gov. Cowper (Democrat), elected with great state employee union support, took one look at the revenue and budget projections and announced “All bets are off” to the Democrat constituencies accustomed to having their hooves in the trough. There ensued a decade of concessionary bargaining and labor strife. The times broke the back of the old-fashioned independent association that represented the bulk of State employees and the State’s largest unit came to be represented by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The old association had acted like a labor union, AFSCME acted like a political party and a whole new education began for me.
I was pretty adversarial and confrontational and I worked for two administrations, one Democrat, one AIP/Republican, that were willing to be adversarial and confrontational with unions. I was a very good labor relations practitioner and my AFSCME adversaries were not, so I established a fearsome reputation as a negotiator and advocate. I became so cocky about it that I took to making little copies of each union’s letterhead logo and pinning on to the outside of my cubby wall every time I beat them in an arbitration or labor board hearing – sorta like the kill marks on a fighter plane. In the waning days of the Hickel Administration, we had AFSCME beaten into submission; their contract was expired, we’d stopped enforcing their union security clause so they were down to about 30% dues payers. They were being propped up by the National union just to be able to get a negotiating team together or represent themselves in arbitration or before the labor board. We were confident that with a Republican governor in November, we’d administer the coup d’grace and decertify them, ridding the State of a disruptive pestilence.
Then, Hickel’s Lt. Governor decided that the Republican nominee wasn’t conservative enough, so he threw in third party. His votes and the usual Democrat voter fraud in The Bush gave Democrat Tony Knowles the governorship. I quickly learned that I had been congratulating myself for winning battles while AFSCME was winning a war. In my “I love me” box I still have some tapes and transcripts of AFSCME agents jeering at me about the pool they had on how many seconds I’d be employed after Knowles took his hand off the Bible. I jeered back because it was inconceivable that the People of Alaska would elect a liberal Democrat. Since then I’ve learned to never underestimate the stupid party’s capacity for self-destruction.
Knowles’ commissioners that had anything to do with employee relations had to be specifically vetted by the unions. My new boss, a former Democrat Congressional staffer and state legislator, walked in and annnounced that he had specifically campaigned with the unions for the position and had promised them that the senior labor relations people would be fired. He specifically orded me to remove the kill marks from my wall since they were offensive to the unions. Well, that sorts out your career plans! Understand, I was not a political appointee; I was a merit system employee and this commissioner was confident enough to say out loud in front of witnesses that he had promised a union to fire classified, merit system employees. Democrats do it every time they take office; Republicans are nice and let the Democrat’s appointees keep their jobs. I spent the next two years fighting with the boss and getting my affairs in order; you can only do something you hate for people you hate for so long. I quit the Executive Branch and went to work for the Republican controlled Legislature. Somewhere in there I registered as a Republican after being a life-long Democrat. After three years of working session contracts for the Republicans, I was tired of starving, the Administration was tired of being tortured by their AFSCME friends, and the commissioner I hated was gone, so I went back to work for the Executive Branch so I could make a decent living again.
I hardly recognized the Executive Branch after three years’ absence! In typical Democrat fashion, they’d either fired, run off, or isolated every experienced hand in the government and replaced them with either a hack or with some kid who shouldn’t even have been interviewed for the job. They’d rescinded all the rules in the guise of re-engineering and “examining our processes.” My job was to train and supervise the labor relations staff and in the words of my new boss, “get AFSCME off my back and out of my buildings.” And that’s when I became a student of Saul Alinsky.
I’d read “Rules for Radicals” way back in the ’70s when it first came out. It really was only a more studious and purposeful version of “Do It” or “Steal this Book,” the “Yippie” field manuals from the ’60s. The Administration had learned the hard way that you can never give a union enough. Plus, AFSCME’s tactics weren’t really about “getting” anything; they were about disruption and about discrediting the authority of the employer. Their tactic of choice was to “mau-mau” supervisors and managers, a version of the Alinsky fix, personalize, and humiliate doctrine. I bought copies of “Rules” for my staff to read and digested the rules. I called in all the players in direct dealings with unions and laid out the defense. I’ll admit that I was totally dishonest in that meeting; I had no intention of defending. I had every intention of mau-mauing the union. My objective was to take out as many union leaders as I could so I could scare the rest of them into submission. The key to that was making sure that the union activists couldn’t have any fun – having fun is an Alinsky key. The Alinsky scheme assumes that your activists are ignorant, childish, lazy, and lack-self control. You should read “Rules” just for the look at what a committed communist organizer really thinks about poor people and Blacks. I resolved that there was nothing the union could do that would get a reaction from us; we were going to ignore them, even if we had to throw some supervisors under the bus in the process. Thus, the objective was to make the union do ever more dramatic and crazy things trying to get us to react. I didn’t know what it would be, but I was confident that given time, they’d do something stupid enough that I could haul some leaders in and at minimum scare Hell of them and maybe fire one or two.
This is the key: the “community” or union organizers – or Presidents – are insulated; they’re not going to get fired for their actions, they don’t work for you. The followers do and they must be made to pay the price for following those leaders. Yes, it is unfair to off the useful idiots, but if you make a lot of smoke and noise, you don’t have to off many of them before the rest start watching their parking meters and thinking twice about following leaders – to borrow a little Bob Dylan. Ultimately, the union out-performed even my most hopeful expectations and I managed to change the career plans of three shop stewards and even one business agent. That’s my version of hope and change! It’s not often you get to take out paid staff, so I really enjoyed putting that head on my wall. I’ll always treasure the phone call I got from the union’s head the day it all went down. He said, “Art, I’ll give you (business agent) if you’ll just save my stewards.” I said, “Too late.” Things got really quiet after that and I’ll give the administration credit, they stuck to their guns and didn’t settle out. We took the steward dismissals to arbitration and won. And peace settled in over the workplace.
After Murkowski won and I became director, I was determined that peace was going to continue to reign. I had my list of miscreants and we quite openly went on what we styled the “Empty Chairs Program.” It does amazing things for employee morale when a couple of suits from HQ show up at a workplace and somebody just disappears into the night and fog. It didn’t take many. We told our supervisors that they were now free to supervise and we would back them. And thus I was able to be the only director of labor relations since bargaining began in ‘72 to keep all of them quietly off the streets and under contract for a full gubernatorial term.
Whether he’s studied Alinsky or just puzzled it out on his own, Glen Beck is doing this right. Pick one, personalize him or her by pounding on their bio and don’t let up until they have to kick your object to the curb. But more needs to be done at the “We the People” level. The real useful idiots in this are the Congressmen, especially all the Rahmbo recruits who pretended to be Republicans to get elected. We need to mau-mau them. They need to be fixed, personalized, and destroyed. Comrade Obama has lots of appratchniks out there to choose from and even if they get fired, they just go into the Democrat shadow government and never miss a paycheck. The useful idiots in Congress have something to lose. If they are forced to resign or lose in ‘10, they for the most part have to go back to lawyering or sell something in Podunk, the ultimate humiliation for someone who thought they’d become a part of the DC establishment.
We really won’t have to [politically] off many Members of Congress before they begin to distance themselves from Comrade Obama. Safe districts make some of them ideologues and they can get away with it, but Pelosi and Obama can’t assemble a majority from the true lefties in Congress. We have to target the vulnerable Members from red and purple districts. It would also be a good thing to find some true Lefty member with some personal vulnerability and hound him or her from office. It would be well if some governors would recognize that we are in an existential battle with these people, so maybe some state law enforcement in states we control can take an interest in any Democrat Members of Congress from that state. Hear me, Southern governors?
So, there’s a story of my experience both with having Rules used on me and using it on other people and the broad strokes and bright colors of an offensive campaign against the Democrats using Alinsky tactics.