Six months later, conflicting versions of Gunn’s role in the Luna incident abounded at the convention. Because Luna had friends in the IBEW, the electrical workers voted as a block against Gunn and for their candidate, Ron Cantrell. Walter Timberlake, head of Austin’s AFL-CIO, said, “I’m friends with Joe Gunn, and I respect him, but he did work against Ronnie Luna.” The truth, most likely, lies somewhere in the gray areas. According to an insider familiar with the meeting that Gunn and two other union leaders had with Lt. Gov. Hobby, it happened this way: at the time when it looked as if Clements was willing to go all out against Luna, Gunn was willing to bargain away Luna in exchange for other appointments that were important to labor. But at the time when labor officially agreed to stand firm for Luna, Gunn did nothing to hinder his confirmation. Gunn and Hubbard apparently did have a different strategy at first, but the story that circulated at the convention that Gunn had said he would Luna reappointed may have been a piece of good old-fashioned dirty politicking. Gunn’s people, in return, made a similar charge against Hubbard: that he had gone back on his word. As this side would have it, Hubbard met with Gunn several months ago and agreed that he would run for one more term and then retire. Gunn agreed and the two men shook hands. But the animosity between them continued. In another meeting in May, Hubbard and Gunn once again tried to make peace and agreed to work together. But, then, according to Gunn’s people, Hubbard turned around and found a candidate to run against Gunn. “I know on May 2nd we shook hands again; on May 6, I had an opponent,” Gunn said. “There was no mention of any opposition or anything of that nature,” he said, recalling the meeting. But did Hubbard say he would refrain from backing an opponent? “Well no,” said Gunn, “But you don’t say you’re working with someone, and [at the same time go] looking for an opponent, I wouldn’t think, would you?” Hubbard said he didn’t know why Gunn was surprised. He said they had merely shook hands, not agreed on who would support whom. And Hubbard denies agreeing that this would be his last term. “Never was anything said about I was going to run for one more term and get out. Never.” In the end, the outcome had to do with union loyalties, favors owed, trade-offs made, and the byzantine world of labor union alliances. Joan Suarez of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers went with the Steelworkers, who were backing Hubbard and Cantrell. Other progressives in the service employees union and farmworker union backed Gunn. Don Horn, of the Harris County AFL-CIO, who had been strong for Hubbard in his 1973 race against Roy Evans, was just as strong this time for Gunn. Hubbard’s own union, the Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers, went partially for Gunn, partially for his opponent. Gunn had a huge base of support among his union, the Communication Workers of America, the largest voting block. Finally, it was a group of CWA delegates who put Gunn over the 100,000 vote margin. A noisy demonstration broke out on the floor, and Cantrell took the stage to concede defeat, trailing by about 20,000 votes. It was unmistakably a stinging defeat for Harry Hubbard and it now seems certain that Gunn will challenge him directly in two years for the presidency. What this means politically for the AFL-CIO and for the labor movement is not entirely clear. Those on “Gunn’s team” say the federation is not weakened by the differences between the two leaders. Rep. Lloyd Criss argues that an independent-minded secretarytreasurer and not a “yes-man” is necessary to provide “checks and balances” on the president. Other supporters of Gunn say Gunn represents the chance to close the Harry Hubbard era. To this way of thinking, a change in the state’s politics took place between 1972 and 1982 that Hubbard has not been able to understand. With the election of liberal Democrats to top state offices in 1982, and with a Democratic state Senate that is not automatically hostile to labor legislation, labor is no longer on the defensive. There are opportunities now to pass labor legislation by being willing to compromise, even to wheel and deal something that seems to appall Hubbard. Gunn wants the AFL-CIO to concentrate on making legislative gains to pass bills that make a real difference in the lives of working people rather than to rail against anti-labor officials and focus entirely on distant electoral victories. To Gunn’s backers Hubbard is like a linebacker stuck on the defensive unit, who doesn’t know how to carry the ball when the play changes. “The defensive rules don’t work on offense,” one union leader explained. What Gunn’s victory in the secretary-treasurer race demonstrated, in this labor leader’s eyes, is that Gunn is the more savvy political tactician. Hubbard “doesn’t know how to count votes in the Legislature any more than he does on his own convention floor,” he said. But Gunn would be no more effective than Hubbard if he assumed leadership in two years and put all his stakes on the Legislature. The current fix that labor is in is at least three dimensional. It is difficult for unions to organize until labor laws are changed. But the laws won’t be changed until the legislature is changed. And the legislature won’t take on a pro-labor cast until unions organize more members. There’s a task awaiting the new generation of labor leaders that requires a broader appeal by unions a reaching out. That broad vision was not apparent in this summer’s power struggle at the AFL-CIO. Maybe it will ultimately win out. Lest history continue to repeat itself. D.D. Remembering The Neediest THE EDITORS of the Dallas Morning News got it half right. After six column inches of apologia under the headline “State vetos not so awful” they served up the following explanation of the governor’s $167 million line item vetoes: “Gov. Clements had to assert himself in some manner after breaking his campaign pledge of no new taxes. Better to lose a private airplane than vital services.” And the Governor did have to assert himself. Caught between the Mike Toomeys and Sam Johnsons clamoring for something more austere than the bare-bones budget approved by the 70th legislature, and the cold reality of a state going into moral and administrative receivership in federal courtrooms, the governor had to flex his muscles. But the Clements vetoes were not about private airplanes. The largest single item “exorcised” from the budget was a $52 million financial assistance package for school districts that had lost revenue due to declining property values. Fifty-two million dollars was half the amount requested by the Texas Education Agency and would have averted property-tax increases, or cuts in services, in onefifth of the state’s school districts. Clements claimed that the 4 AUGUST 28, 1987
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