Saturday, December 02, 2006

In Detroit: Carpenters corruption is centralized and efficient

Union Democracy Review #164
According to the Detroit News Ralph Mabry, executive secretary treasurer of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, was sentenced to two years in prison and a $50,000 fine for receiving $127,000 from contractors in discounts toward building his $803,000 home. His assistant was sentenced to a year and a day plus a $3,000 fine.

There's something special about this case. As executive secretary treasurer of this regional council, which represents 23,000 carpenters statewide, he was endowed with authoritarian power that insulated him from membership control and gave him near-dictatorial control over all local affiliates and staff members, local or regional. In justifying the reorganization of the union and combining all locals under all-powerful executive secretaries, International President Douglas McCarron argued that such a super-centralized system was imperative to end petty corruption in the union and to make the union more effective in meeting the great challenges of our epoch.

In one odd, limited but not unanticipated way, McCarron was right. Petty local corruption seems to have been replaced, at least in Michigan, by more efficient, centralized corruption at a higher level.

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