Page 13


…ETxyaBsE VER The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1986 Vol. 78, No. 17 August 29, 1986 Copyright 1986 by Texas Observer Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. PUBLISHER Ronnie Dugger EDITOR Geoffrey Rips ASSOCIATE EDITOR Dave Denison CALENDAR EDITOR Chula Sims LAYOUT AND DESIGN: Valerie Fowler EDITORIAL ASSISTANT: Kathleen Fitzgerald EDITORIAL INTERNS: David Gunter, Dee Hill POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE: Dana Loy EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Frances Barton, Austin; Elroy Bode, Kerrville; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Bob Eckhardt, Washington, D.C.; Sissy Farenthold, Houston; Ruperto Garcia, Austin; John Kenneth Galbraith, Cambridge, Mass.; Lawrence Goodwyn, Durham, N.C.; George Hendrick, Urbana, Ill.; Molly Ivins, Dallas; Larry L. King, Washington, D.C.; Maury Maverick, Jr., San Antonio; Willie Morris, Oxford, Miss.: Kaye Northcott, Austin; James Fred Schmidt, Tehachapi, Cal., Robert Sherrill, Tallahassee, Fla. CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Warren Burnett, Jo Clifton, Craig Clifford, Louis Dubose, John Henry Faulk, Ed Garcia, Bill Helmer, James Harrington, Jack Hopper, Amy Johnson, Michael King, Dana Loy, Rick Piltz, Gary Pomerantz, Susan Raleigh, John Schwartz, Michael Ventura, Lawrence Walsh. CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Alan Pogue, Russell Lee, Scott Van Osdol, Alicia Daniel. CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS: Mark Antonuccio, Eric Avery Tom Ballenger, Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein. Dan Hubig, Pat Johnson, Kevin Kreneck, Carlos Lowry, Miles Mathis, Joe McDermott, Ben Sargent, Dan Thibodeau. A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them because this is a journal of free voices. Managing Publisher Subscription Manager Office Manager Publishing Consultant Development Consultant Cliff Olofson Stefan Wanstrom Joe Espinosa Jr. Frances Barton Hanno T. Beck The Texas Observer paid at Austin, Texas. Subscription rates, including 5 1/8% sales tax: one year $23, two years $42, three years $59. One year rate for full-time students, $15. Back issues $2 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm editions available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106. Copyright 1986 by Texas Observer Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. POSTMASTER: Send form 3579 to: 600 West 28th Street, #105, Austin, Texas 78705. 2 AUGUST 29, 1986 EDITORIAL Rejuvenating the Unions ON A RECENT AFTERNOON we reached Robert Kai had been busily at work, proceeding as if reports of organized labor’s demise had been greatly exaggerated. That morning he had flown to Houston; later in the day he swung over to Fort Worth, visiting in both cities the regional offices of the National Labor Relations Board “to check and see what’s going on.” Specifically, he checked the number of union certification elections at workplaces around the state. He returned to his office to put the information into his computer “to see if there are any interesting trends.” Labor trends are to Whiting what enemy troop movements are to the CIA. In his three-and-a-half years with Whiting & Associates he has advised scores of Texas businesses in “union avoidance strategies.” A recent mailing invited businesses to a half-day briefing for a fee of $125, one to be held in Austin on August 20 and one in San Antonio on August 21. A company brochure summarized his previous work in terms of fallen giants: “Bob has been involved in successful union avoidance campaigns against the IAM, IBEW, UAW, OCAW, IUE, CWA, UTE, ACTWU, the Teamsters, the Carpenters, and the Grainmillers.” But to Whiting the price of a union-free environment is eternal vigilance. “Just because unions have had a bad couple of years doesn’t mean they’re down and out,” he says. “And I find that to be a common perception among some employers that is, well, we don’t have to worry about them anymore because they’re sort of passe now.” In fact, for union members feeling a little down in the dumps this Labor Day, Whiting is full of cheery news. Union organizing has increased by more than ten percent in the first quarter of the year, he says. The “win ratio” for unions trying to get certified is over 60 percent in the first half of the year. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has seen significant organizing of late. And unions are making inroads into new areas, such as the service industries in Texas, according to Whiting. Of course, the man has a job to do, and if the unions were said to be withering away, so would his business.. OTHER STATISTICS, other slumps, weigh heavily on the labor movement; now when the aging slugger steps to the plate no one is surprised to see him go down swinging. With the breaking of the air controllers’ strike as one of the first items of business for the Reagan administration and the subsequent setbacks to unions in the private sector, some analysts have begun to describe these times as the worst for labor since the 1920s \(Bob Whiting’s worries about 60 percent “win ratios” and “new inroads” Union membership has fallen from 26 percent of the workforce nationally in the mid-’70s to about 18 percent according to most experts quoted \(the Labor Department no