Obama and Hoffa: Who’s help­ing work­ers?

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Michelle Malkin

Barack Obama and Jimmy Hoffa are like Twee­dle­dum and Tweedledee, Lady Gaga and hype, the “Jersey Shore” cast and hair­spray: in­sep­a­ra­ble. The pres­i­dent can no more dis­own the Team­sters Union’s leader than he can dis­own his own id.

At a La­bor Day rally in Detroit on Sept. 5 be­fore Obama spoke, Hoffa stoked anti-tea party hos­til­ity by urg­ing his min­ions to “take these son of a b------out.” (Botched gram­mar added that ex­tra boost of street­gang au­then­tic­ity to the la­bor lawyer’s threat.)

The same ci­vil­ity po­lice on the left who de­cry any ref­er­ences to crosshairs as in­cite­ments to vi­o­lence are now mute about Hoffa’s brass-knuckle rhetoric.

The Chicagoans in the White House refuse to com­ment.

Those call­ing on Obama to con­demn Hoffa’s un­civil tone are de­lud­ing them­selves.

The 1.4 mil­lion-mem­ber Team­sters lifted Obama to power with a cov­eted en­dorse­ment and bot­tom­less cam­paign cof­fers funded with co­erced mem­ber dues.

Over the past two decades, the union has do­nated nearly $25 mil­lion to Democrats (com­pared to $1.8 mil­lion for Repub­li­cans).

What quid pro quo pro­tec­tion has the Team­sters’ money bought? Let us count the ways.

Back in May 2008, as he jock­eyed with ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton for Big La­bor sup­port, Obama promised to end long­stand­ing fed­eral probes into the Team­sters’ mob racket.

In 1989, the union was fac­ing fed­eral rack­e­teer­ing charges af­ter Jus­tice Depart­ment of­fi­cials de­ter­mined it was op­er­at­ing as a “wholly owned sub­sidiary of or­ga­nized crime.”

The Wall Street Jour­nal re­ported that Obama phoned sev­eral Team­sters heav­ies to con­vey his vow to be­gin dis­man­tling the independent fed­eral watch­dog over­see­ing the Team­sters; an Obama spokesman con­firmed it.

Team­sters re­form­ers now con­sider the re­view board a “tooth­less mech­a­nism,” ac­cord­ing to a re­cent ar­ti­cle in the left-wing The Na­tion mag­a­zine. As one Hoffa critic put it, “You’re so tied up into a cor­rupt cul­ture. You have this cul­ture of pro­tect­ing each other.”

Mean­while, a fed­eral court has de­ter­mined that Hoffa and his goons raided the Team­sters trea­sury to try to buy his own re-elec­tion sup­port with jobs and pen­sions.

As a court-ap­pointed watch­dog de­ter­mined this spring: “The con­duct re­vealed in this in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­flects a cul­ture, or mind-set where elected union of­fi­cials do not clearly dis­tin­guish be­tween their fidu­ciary re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to the union and their sep­a­rate po­lit­i­cal ob­jec­tives of achiev­ing elec­tion.”

Nev­er­the­less, Obama’s crime-fight­ing cru­saders are far more pre­oc­cu­pied with crack­ing down on Gib­son gui­tars made of rare wood and cov­er­ing up the Op­er­a­tion Fast and Fu­ri­ous gun-walk­ing scan­dal than with clean­ing up the Team­sters’ graft and pay-for-play dirty busi­ness.

While he reg­u­larly lam­bastes “mil­lion­aires and bil­lion­aires” who ben­e­fit from tax loop­holes, Obama has zero to say about the crony Cadil­lac health in­sur­ance tax ex­emp­tion he doled out to the Team­sters and other Big La­bor groups.

In Jan­uary 2010, Hoffa and his pals met be­hind closed doors at the White House to en­sure that they would be shielded while other mid­dle­class Amer­i­cans were forced to bear the bur­den.

While he calls for shared sac­ri­fice, Obama has zero to say about the exclusive Oba­macare waivers he has awarded to Team­sters chap­ters, in­clud­ing:

The Western Team­sters Wel­fare Trust in Seat­tle;

The Team­sters and Em­ploy­ers Wel­fare Trust of Illi­nois in Spring­field;

The Team­sters Lo­cal 485 Health and Wel­fare Fund in Brook­lyn, N.Y.;

The Team­sters Lo­cal 617 Wel­fare Fund in Ridge­field, N.J.;

The Team­sters Lo­cal 734 Wel­fare Fund in Chicago.

While he reg­u­larly lam­bastes Wall Street salaries, Obama has zero to say about the bloated salaries and ben­e­fits of Team­sters brass.

Ac­cord­ing to in­ter­nal data com­piled by Team­sters for a Demo­cratic Union, 120 top Team­sters of­fi­cials made more than $150,000 in 2009, the largest num­ber ever.

Forty made more than $200,000, also an un­prece­dented num­ber.

Hoffa pulls down nearly $400,000 a year, in­clud­ing an exclusive hous­ing al­lowance and cost of liv­ing raise.

While he rails against “spe­cial in­ter­ests,” Obama has zero to say about the ex­ec­u­tive or­ders he signed in the first days of his pres­i­dency to give unions a leg up.

Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der 13502, for ex­am­ple, es­sen­tially forces con­trac­tors who bid on large-scale pub­lic con­struc­tion projects worth $25 mil­lion or more to sur­ren­der to union rep­re­sen­ta­tion for its em­ploy­ees.

This cod­i­fi­ca­tion of so-called project la­bor agree­ments sig­nif­i­cantly raises the cost of high­way and school con­struc­tion projects (by as much as 15 per­cent among Cal­i­for­nia pub­lic schools, ac­cord­ing to a new study by the National Univer­sity Sys­tem In­sti­tute for Pol­icy Re­search).

The Obama pro­tec­tion or­der shuts out the vast ma­jor­ity of con­trac­tors in Amer­ica.

As I’ve noted be­fore, 85 per­cent of the con­struc­tion in­dus­try work­force is nonunion by choice.

In­stead of putting Amer­i­cans to work, the Team­sters have been busy yank­ing mem­bers off projects and idling con­struc­tion projects from Cal­i­for­nia to In­di­ana to New York in or­der to shake down em­ploy­ers.

Now, you tell me: ing “war on work­ers”?



Michelle Malkin is the author of “Cul­ture of Cor­rup­tion: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies” (Reg­n­ery 2010).

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