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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

AFSCME more concerned with the letter than the person

--posted by Tony Garcia on 2/22/2006

The news over the weekend is that the employee union that represents those who work with Amy Klobuchar pleaded to the state body of that union to NOT endorse Amy Klobuchar.
The local union representing the staff of Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar is asking its parent group, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, not to endorse her in her bid for the U.S. Senate.

Jim Appleby, an assistant Hennepin County attorney and local union president, said in a letter to union leaders this month that Klobuchar had denigrated lawyers at her office publicly and privately, taken credit for their work and "created a hostile work environment."

The two-page letter said Klobuchar's management style had resulted in increased grievances and that she used successfully prosecuted cases to give the public the false impression that she was actively involved in those cases.
At least that organization understands what an endorsement is: the vouching for a person to help people (and members) understand quickly what that person is like. It has been abused by some (AFSCME state, for example) as a rubber stamp to assert party identification.

The AFSCME parent group's response was to say generaly that their endorsement has little to do with the person they are endorsing and more to do with the party they are a member of.

Klobuchar's response was to marginalize the complaint.
Klobuchar said the focus of the discontent seemed to be last year's contract negotiations and the charge that she did not support a wage increase for those employees.
And Appleby replied:
"It's about how our people are treated in the workplace," he said.

He said the union also asked that Klobuchar be denied endorsement in 2002, when she was running for re-election. That request was ignored, he said.

Mike Furnstahl, a veteran prosecutor with the violent-crimes unit, said the purpose of the letter was not to "derail" Klobuchar's campaign.

"This isn't by any stretch of the imagination an anti-Amy campaign. This is about concerns investigators have had over the last seven years," he said.
Now ask yourself this: How can someone be taken seriously when they advocate for "worker's issues" when their very own subordinates are first hand witness to the lack of respect for the workers?
Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5, said he was taking the local's concerns "very seriously" and planned to meet with members. But there are larger issues in a U.S. Senate race than employer-employee relationship.

"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.
See, what the endorsement is saying is character, principle and honesty do not matter. They are willing to endorse anyone as long as there is the "D" after the candidate's name. They have no standards for their endorsement and as a result their endorsement should be discarded by all not only for this race but for future races as well.

If we see for this race there is not integrity standard for AFSCME's endorsement it is reasonable to conclude that future endorsements are tainted by the same empty process. A much more empowering action for the future would to have heeded the advice of the local (her very own employees) and withhold any endorsement of Klobuchar. It also would have shown that the union actually does respect the workers instead of the machine. I cannot say I am surprised by AFSCME, but disappointed in the further proof that unions are irrelevant and public employee unions are unnecessary.


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