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automatons in an army, and carry out what the top says they should
do with very, very rare questioning of decisions. The structure of the
union with an executive board that meets from time to time [Interview
interrupted; tape stops and starts]. According to the constitution, the
executive board has a lot of power, but in essence the executive board
is really a figurehead and does nothing more than rubber stamp the
decisions of the officers, in this case the president, of the union.
The other person who plays an important role in that union, other than
the president, is Irving Stern, who is officially the director of
organization for the union, for the local, but is really the international
representative of the union as well. He has two positions.
And at least two salaries.
That's a different matter. I don't want to get into that.
Then the membership meets by geographical area. Every so often --
there are no stated membership meeting times. I don't even think that
the constitution says they must meet so many times a year.
I think it does, but I think it's like two.
It may say a number of times a year. The membership
meetings and the executive board meetings -- all of the meetings of
the union -- are strictly run in, there's a simple format. Reports are
made to the members, and while it's open to discussion there rarely is
any discussion. The membership is sort of like a receptacle to receive
the reports from the officers and to say “Right on” and “Terrific” and
“Great,” how great you are, particularly as long as they are producing
good contracts. A system of that kind could run into difficulty once
there is an economic pinch on the union, in terms of affecting the
members' contracts. But even there, it would be very difficult for rank
and file to organize an opposition, or to develop an opposition, to the
position of the leadership. I don't anticipate anything like that
happening in the union, nor is that a significant kind of thing.
The point I'm trying to make is that that approach, that method of
operating, is fairly typical of most labor unions. That, in itself, is part
of the problem that the labor movement faces. When times are good
and the conditions are good, members don't want to devote alot of
time to the union -- things are being taken care of. When things are
bad there will be griping, but fundamentally there is no vehicle for real
rank and file participation. The stewards, for example, are stewards in
name, really in name only. Their powers are very, very sharply limited.
They participate on grievances only on the first step, during the
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