Monopoly Privileges Transform ‘Working-Class Hero’ Into Just Another Union Fat Cat

Fourteen years ago, Mark Rosenthal, recently-elected president of  Local 983 of  the District Council 37 union conglomerate in New York City, was hailed by media admirers as a scourge of Big Labor corruption.  Here was a man who would wield the monopoly-bargaining power he had acquired after spending years battling corrupt union insiders to reform the system from within.

In January 1999, Rosenthal got kid-gloves treatment from the famously ruthless Mike Wallace (since deceased) in a 60 Minutes interview.  The New York Daily News dubbed him a “working-class hero” for his efforts to clean up D.C. 37, a subsidiary of the mammoth American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME/AFL-CIO) union, and protect rank-and-file unionists.

But a story appearing in the New York Post this week indicates that putting a different person in charge is no solution to the problem of union corruption.  After wielding monopoly privileges for a decade and a half, Mark Rosenthal is just another union fat cat.

Today he collects a $156,000 a year salary as Local 983’s top boss.  That’s a hefty sum considering that the roughly 3000 “Parks Department peace officers and maintenance workers and NYPD tow-truck operators and other traffic agents” whom Rosenthal “represents” are “among the lowest-paid city workers,” as the Post points out.

How does Rosenthal do it?  He squeezes an average of $1080 a year in forced union dues from hard-pressed workers. And the photos accompanying the Post story by Rich Calder (see the link below) suggest that Rosenthal doesn’t see the need even to stay awake on the job for which he collects a fat forced dues-funded paycheck.  The Post reports:

. . . Mark Rosenthal spends more time sleeping at his desk than organizing labor, a series of damning photos reveals.

The 400-pound president of Local 983 of District Council 37 — the city’s largest blue-collar municipal-workers union — often downs a huge meal, then drops into dreamland in the early afternoon, members of the union’s executive board told The Post.

“He eats lunch when he arrives at work at 2 p.m. Then, like clockwork, he goes to sleep with a cup of soda on the table and the straw in it,” said Marvin Robbins, a union vice president.

“Then he wakes up, looks at his watch and says, ‘I have to get out before the traffic gets bad.’ He’s usually out by 4 p.m. after being at the office two hours.”

The real solution to union corruption isn’t replacing the “old guard” with a so-called “working class hero.”  The way to make union officials accountable to the rank and file is to take away the bosses’ monopoly privileges, starting with the privilege to get workers fired for refusal to pay union dues or fees.

Just another doze at the office for union’s ‘scarf-&-snore’ prez