Future Of The American Worker

The investigation of racketeering and corruption in the labor movement raises several important questions of concern to the American worker. The immediate question is: In the event of guilt, what punishment of a union leader is proportionate to his crime? The broader question is: What legislation and enforcement are needed to prevent the repetition of such crime? The ultimate question is: Whither the labor movement?

Since no man is considered guilty in America until after trial, it is a bit premature to hang Dave Beck, even in effigy. The McClellan Committee, however, in its search for evidence of racketeering and corruption, has not lacked for serious charges, and its work is just begun. Already the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO has suspended Mr. Beck, its vice president (hence one of its most powerful officers) and president of its largest affiliate, the 1,400,000-member Brotherhood of Teamsters, an official who retreated to the Fifth Amendment with assembly-line monotony to avoid “self-incrimination” when his union deals came under scrutiny. Beck’s “million dollar public relations plan” to offset publicity of a possible $320,000 misappropriation of union funds has been blocked. On May 20 the Executive Council gives him a hearing—without benefit of Fifth Amendment, and without his being under oath—to determine if suspension should be turned into expulsion. In New York two former union officials, George Scalise and Sol Cilento, pleaded guilty to welfare racket charges in a $299,000 union fraud, and face maximum jail terms of three years.

The question of the relation between punishment and crime is an important one. In the event of misuse of union funds ...

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