Business Week International Readers Report
ALBERT SHANKER: NOT OUT TO OUST KIRKLAND (int'l edition)
Aaron Bernstein reports that some labor leaders are dissatisfied with Lane Kirkland and would like to see someone else as president of the AFL-CIO ("Why Lane Kirkland looks like a lame duck," American News, Feb. 13). So what's new? As far back as I can remember--during the Meany and Kirkland years--there have always been such rumblings before election time. None of the critics ever gathered enough support to make a run.
The story is downright wrong in a number of respects. Bernstein couched my statement--that I support Kirkland 100% but will look at any other candidate--in such a way as to imply I am looking for change. Naturally, as a representative of 850,000 members, I owe it to them to look fairly at all candidates. But, as I told Bernstein, any new candidate would lack credibility unless he had proposed alternative courses of action in recent years. Nobody has.
As for the charge that the AFL-CIO spends one-third of its budget on its four international affairs institutes, it actually spends less than 1% on them. The one-third figure was arrived at by including millions of dollars in the National Endowment for Democracy, USIA, USAID, and other government funds that the AFL-CIO uses to administer programs abroad. These are dollars the AFL-CIO would not have if it didn't do such work. In a period of fierce international competition and trade problems, every affiliated union of the AFL-CIO has benefited from the federation's and Kirkland's involvement in international affairs.
President, American Federation
of Teachers, AFL-CIO