NY Carpenters Union Boss Pleads Guilty to Racketeering

-By Warner Todd Huston

Remember the good old days? Remember the days when union thugs were just normal, everyday, criminals, creeps, and crooks? Well, they still are, at least in some corners of uniondom.

After years of fighting criminal charges, the former head of the union that represents carpenters in New York City pleaded guilty on Wednesday to taking part in a racketeering scheme stretching back over a decade, the authorities said.

The former leader, Michael J. Forde, was accused along with nine other union officials and contractors of stealing millions of dollars from the union and its benefit funds.

The men were named last year in a 29-count indictment that charged that in exchange for bribes, Mr. Forde and the others allowed contractors to pay union members cash wages below union scale with no benefits, to hire illegal and nonunion workers, and to skip benefit contributions.

Unfortunately the quaint days of mere criminality are in the past. Now unions are in charge of government and increasingly getting the benefit of the help their brethren in politics can give them. As Mark Hemingway of the Washington Examiner reminds us:

Forde is facing up to 40 years in prison on the charges. One would think that the prevalence of corruption would make Democrats think twice about exempting unions from campaign finance laws or calling for the card check legislation, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did today. But as long as unions keep writing big campaign checks to Democrats, I don't think that's going to happen.

I never thought I'd long for the good old days when unions were just filled with your normal, boring kind of old-style criminals. But here we are nonetheless.

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