|The Ron Carey Campaign
Growing Troubles for Labor
Three months after triumphing in the United Parcel Service strike, the labor movement is reeling from the corruption charges against the teamsters' union. Now that Ron Carey has stepped aside as teamsters' president, the spotlight has shifted to other labor leaders who may have been involved in the alleged plot to divert union funds for Mr. Carey's election campaign. This is a painful moment for the union cause, but its commanders would be mistaken to hunker down and belittle the charges against them. Only by cooperating fully with investigators can they redeem the promise of a reborn labor movement.
A Federal investigation into the teamsters' case is still under way, but it was disturbing that Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., has refused to testify, pleading his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Mr. Trumka is accused of involvement in a scheme in which the teamsters paid $150,000 to the A.F.L.-C.I.O., triggering a separate A.F.L.-C.I.O. payment to an independent political group that then used some of the money for Mr. Carey's election drive. The allegation is that this was an elaborate money-laundering operation to circumvent the Federal ban on using union money for a union leader's political campaign.
Spokesmen for the A.F.L.-C.I.O. say that the organization's own internal review has found no evidence of wrongdoing, and that neither Mr. Trumka nor anyone else intended any of its money to go to Mr. Carey. Mr. Trumka, a respected former president of the United Mine Workers, is within his rights to plead the Fifth Amendment, but for the sake of propriety he would do the A.F.L.-C.I.O. a favor if he stepped aside while the investigation is under way. Refusing to testify on grounds of self-incrimination may be acceptable in a criminal trial, but it hardly instills confidence in his leadership of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.
Federal investigators are looking into allegations that other labor leaders were involved in underhanded efforts to help Mr. Carey. Republicans in Congress, who are still furious over the millions of dollars spent by the A.F.L.-C.I.O. to defeat their members in the campaign last year, are vowing to investigate what they say is widespread union corruption when Congress reconvenes next year. They clearly hope to get some political advantage by tarring the entire union movement as corrupt. But that is all the more reason for labor leaders to be as cooperative as possible. The path out of labor's current difficulties is openness, not denial.