Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 13, 1975 · Page 53
Get access to this page with a Free Trial
Click to view larger version

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 53

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 13, 1975
Page 53
Start Free Trial

Page 53 article text (OCR)

The Powerful Meany Labor's Godfather Penile Like a Fox' By Jules Loh WASHINGTON i* -- The tan is from the Burning Tree Country Club golf course. It is not. as some Young Turks in the labor movement would have you believe, rust. George Meany. who will be 81 on Aug. 16. is. in his 20th year as president of the AFL-CIO. as energetically as ever pursuing his dual role as both labor's irresistible force and immovable object. The stubby forefinger jabs a congressman's lapel with, the same gusto as always .in putting over a point, or pernt; the glower across a conference table is as icy and menacing as ever an adversary remembers: the South Bronx accent is undiluted, and the ability to snort and growl and no- comment is undiminished by either age or use. "Yeah, Meany's senile," said a loyal union leader, of which there are still many. "Senile like a fox." . All who heard Meany's recent detailed program for federal action to end unemployment know that on such lofty national matters labor still speaks with a single voice -- his. · But on lower levels of the Meany baili- . wick there are signs that the House of La' bor. while not divided, is growing restive under its dour old godfather. , AS ONE EXAMPLE, more and more of the AFL-CIO's 110 affiliated unions are collecting and spending political funds on their own instead of forwarding them to \ Meany's Committee on Political Education (COPE). Last year only a third of the unions met their COPE quotas. Another third anted up less than half their dues. Not only that, union leaders seem more willing'of late to risk Meany's well-known ire by ignoring his views. Last March, when Meany split with his one-time favorite, Sen. Henry. Jackson, and called him "the kind of friend labor doesn't need." the wealthy Marine Engineers Union went right ahead and honored Jackson at a fancy dinner. "It doesn't bother me," Meany said, firing up a huge green cigar. "We have 14 million members who can do as they please politically. I don't tell anybody how to vote." .. . . . . -,-. . He shifted his ample bottom in the chair arid added thoughtfully, "I don't even tell my wife how to vote. She'd tell me to go to hell if I told her how to vote." Now there's a scene worth pondering. , Can you imagine anybody telling William George Meany to go to hell? Not that any number of people over the years might not have been inclined to -privately. Meany has suggested that a secretary of labor (James Hodgson) was a menial: "Why should I bother with the janitor when I can the landlord?"; : that a president (Nixon) was off his trolley: "The events of the last several days prove his 'dangerous emotional instability."; that a White House economic team was not up to his acuity: "Keep the bush league mouths shut."; and that one of the saints of his movement (John L. Lewis) was ''labors's biggest disruptive force." · Dale Carnegie he ain't. · But answering Meany back is another matter. When someone out of favor comes '" in his presence the room chills. His staff members know the symptoms. If they see · the heavy lids narrow over the pale gray eyes behind the thick-rimmed glasses, "Somebody's gonna get it. Cold is what he gets." said an aide. ;' KEEPING George Meany's feathers smoothed is deemed as necessary to a comfortable life in Washington as air conditioning. Lyndon Johnson even took the trouble to walk across Lafayette Park to Meany's office to deliver a framed display of 100 pens representing 100 labor-backed bills he signed and to tell Meany's assembled flock that their shepherd had visited the Oval Office 49 times and talked by phone 82 times. And that gushing gesture was made a week before the president left office. Others might not have kept as meticulous a dance card, but it is a fact that every president since Franklin Roosevelt, all of whom Mr. Labor has known personally, as well as lesser politicoes too numerous to count, have at one time or another wallowed in the courtship of George Meany. How come? Ask 10 labor bosses and 10 July 13,1975 pols the nature of Meany's power arid you get 20 answers, mostly different, all vague. George Meany can't call a mighty union out on strike. .He has no such power base. George Meany can't, as he admitted, tell his folks how to vote. After the last presidential election 71 per cent of union members polled said his opinion had not influenced them. George Meany can't compel a solid labor front. When he withheld his AFL-CIO benediction from both 1972 candidates, 35 national unions not only endorsed George McGovern anyhow but raised $250,000 for ' his campaign. And how to explain his unyielding hold on the AFL-CIO since he negotiated the great labor merger in 1955? Under Meany's high priesthood the temple of labor has been rocked by such heresies as his opinion that the strike is an outdated weapon; union membership has dwindled from about 35 per cent of the nonfarm work force to about 27 per cent; and, whereas Samuel Gompers, in Meany's own memory, ended every speech with the ringing cry, "Organize! Organize'. Organize!", what George Meany had to say, on the subject was this: "Why should we worry about organizing groups of people who do not appear to want to be organized? If they prefer to have others speak for them and make the decisions whch effect their lives, without effective participation on their part, that is their right." That is what Mr. Labor said, to the dismay of more than a few young unionists who, glancing at the 48 per cent union membership in Britain, or the 80 per cent in Sweden, believe labor's crusading days in the U.S. are a long way from over. Yet not since the death of Walter Reuther and the demise of Jimmy Hoffa has anyone risen from labor's ranks to seriously challenge Meany as labor's No. 1 spokesman. LOOKING AT that tough old nabob ensconced in his office suite with its soft blue carpet and soft blue chairs, its big round conference table, its ashtray filled with balls, its bookshelf with Moynihan's "Politics of a Guaranteed Income" standing next to "The Connoisseur's Book of the Cigar," one wonders what George Meany would have been if he hadn't become what he is. Well, what? "I don't know. Now that you ask, I suppose I might have become a contractor. I never gave it any thought." For all the mystery of his clout, George Meany does not appear to be a very complex man. Let's see, any boyhood heroes? "Dickey Rudolph." Who? "Dickey Rudolph. He pitched for the Braves." Oh, that Dickey Rudolph. Any heroes today? "No. I admired Harry Truman. He had tremendous guts. But no, no real heroes." Read any good books lately? "Yeah, some of Solzhenitsyn's books. He's a hell of a writer but it's heavy reading. I don't get much time to read." Ever thought of writing? "Yes. I've thought of writing a history of the trade union movement. I don't suppose there's anybody around who remembers all the characters I do. I knew 'em all poisonally - Gompers, Lewis, Murray, Haywood, Tobin. But I don't have the time to write. Maybe I'll get myself one of those things and just talk in it. That one you're using was made in Japan." Nice shot. No union-made label on that tape recorder. But does not George Meany himself have a camera made in Japan? And another one made in Switzerland? He does. All those varying views of politicians and labor leaders on the nature of Meany's power lead to at least one conclusion. Plainspoken George is .among the last of a breed of public men skilled by training and instinct imthat oldest of political arts; the deal. ' : "He practices the politics of his generation/and they still work;" said one AFL- CIO executive council member who has had his feuds with the boss and does not underestimate him. "He was weaned on Tammany Hall politics. He's comfortable with guys like Mayor Daley of Chicago. He knows how to do favors in return for favors. He knows where the levers are and how to work them. And politicians know he will keep his mouth shut." Thus George Meany has provided labor with something no amount of hortative thunder ever did - legislation. Those 100 pens represent practical accomplishment. '975 George Meany--Labor's Single Voice Dale Carnegie He Ain't junction: "Help our friends and punish our enemies." Again last April Meany declared the AFL-CIO's official neutrality. The organization, he said, would take no part in picking a Democratic candidate for 1976. *· WHAT MAKES that position all the more strange is that Meany also said: "1 am quite sure we will endorse a candidate in 1976." Without an inkling who he will be? Yet that is what he said, right into that Japanese tape recorder. 'The ways of George Meany are much easier to fathom as a .private citizen than as labor's boss of bosses. ' He still puts in a full day, at the end of which, like any other $90,000-a-year execu- tive, he goes home in a chauffcured Cadil- · lac. Except he usually sits up front with the driver. Once he arrives at the seven-room red brick house in Bethesda, where he has lived for 30 years, he becomes the private George Meany and the change is remarkable. One disturbs him at home at one's peril. The private George Meany presides over a patio grill, dabbles at an easel, gardens, golfs, and often after supper accompanies himself at the organ with a favorite Irish come-all-ye. He's a pushover for his 14 grandchildren - stocks a closet full of toys. One granddaughter, Ellen Lutz, at age 12 wrote a letter to the editor of The Washington Post scolding him for making her sweet granddaddy look so nasty in the cartoons. Ellen's view of the private Meany is not surprising. When her grandfather became AFL president in 1952 the artist hired to paint his official portrait wound up in a battle between Meany's daughter and his secretary. The daughter inspected the picture and said she had never seen her father look so solemn. It was changed. The secretary said no, she had never seen him look so frivolous. Changed again. The upshot was two pictures: one for the office, with the corners of the mouth turned down; one for home, with them turned up. Either way, it remains one of the most easily recognized faces in the land. AFEAST Hemingway Papers Reveal Other Side of the Legend By Shelley Cohen L. T. Anderson Handwriting On the Wall HE MIGHT have been less than effective in opening craft unions to blacks, for example, but he knew how to swing powerful weight behind a civil rights bill in Congress. It can't be said, however, that he does not also act out of principles deeply held. When two black unionists were refused rooms at a Houston hotel at the 1949 AFL convention, Meany took one under each arm, marched to the desk and said, "Either they get in or we all get out." They got in. His outspoken anticommunism is equally genuine. Meany may be labor's most devout capitalist. George Meany can sing "solidarity Forever" with the best of them and knows the value of a union card. At 22, with his father dead and his elder brother injured, his union wage of $49.50 a week as a New York plumber was the chief support of his grandfather, mother and seven younger brothers and sisters. But his rise to the top of labor's sulted from neither the ideology of a Reuther nor the polemics of a Lewis WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) - It's not the Ernest Hemingway of legend that comes through in his papers, not the womanizer or the hunter, but the skilled craftsman, the friend and devoted husband. The Hemingway papers are now part of the collection of the John F. Kennedy Library, a gift of his widow, Mary Hemingway. And what they tell about Hemingway the man may prove as fascinating as what they show of Hemingway the writer. One marginal note on what was to be the final chapter of "A Moveable Feast" advises his publishers not to use the material until after his death and "maybe not then" and definitely not while his first wife, Hadley, is still living. The intensely personal recollection of life in Paris during the '20s was published on hotel stationery, that were often the. first drafts of chapters or story fragments. One small scrap from the author's private, unpublished papers, written sometime before 1929, lists more than a dozen possible titles for what was later called "A Farewell to Arms." The wartime love story might have been called "Patriots Progress," "The Grand Tour," "Love in War," "Education of the Flesh," "The Carnal Education," "In Praise of His Mistress" or, "I Have Committed Fornication, But That Was in Another Country And Besides The Wench Is Dead." If Hemingway seemed to be having some fun with the title for that early novel, he was dead serious about its ending. me in fans aurmg me iu= «« jiuu»««.«-- -- -- - oosthumously in 1964. The pages he want- More than a dozen drafts are found among f . . . , ,. u _ h«;inri rlmun his nanprs nf that wpll-knnwn srpnp whprp ed kept from the world were boiled down to a few paragraphs in the published work, just a"passing reference to the "other woman" in his life during his marriage to Hadley. But in the pages never before published he confesses, "Everything is split inside of his papers of that well-known scene where Frederick Henry leaves the hospital after watching his mistress die following the birth of a stillborn child. The final published work ends with Henry walking to his hotel in the rain. In one of the earlier drafts, never before seen by researchers, the child, a boy, lives. Another draft has Henry awaking in his hotel the following morning only to realize his loss once again. Still another wraps up. the lives of other characters in the novel. "In writing, you have a certain choice that you do not have in life," Hemingway said in a notation on one version. He elaborates on that theme in another proposed ending for the novel. "After people die you have to buy them, but you do not have to write about it. You do not have to write about an undertaker or all the business of burial. You do not have to write about that day nor the next day." (Please turn to Page 12E) Last week the news wire services provided us with news of the Philadelphia school which was cleansed of graffiti at a cost of ?4,000 only to be covered with spray paint again only three days later. Philadelphia, where I visit relatives, may be the greatest graffiti city in America. At any rate, it is ahead of New York. I refer, of course, to outdoor graffiti applied with paint from spray cans. Almost all of Philadelphia is covered, as high as a tall man can reach, with spray paint. It was well known a few years ago that merchants were disappointed when their establishments weren't signed by "King Cool" and other prominent graffiti artists. The "i" in "King Cool" took the shape of a little crown, a very neat effect. »·· MOST OUTDOOR GRAFFITI is dreary stuff, consisting mostly of names bestowed upon themselves by idlers of little imagination. The good graffiti is inside, usually in a toilet, usually applied with pen or pencil. The felt tip marker may revolutionize the art. however. I notice that it is coming into greater and greater use. My graffiti authority is Peachy Masinter. who unfailingly brings me some of the Better literary worts he encounters on his *rips to the NortJfcst. that dread area which figures so largely in the nightmares of Barry Goldwater. Today I am pleased to return the favor. What follows was taken from the gray metal wall which divides stall No. 1 and stall No. 2 in the men's toilet on the second floor of the Charleston Newspapers building: "Isn't it time for a union?" "Yes! Yes!" "Sure -- if you can find anyone around here with the guts to do it." "Union? With whom?" "The Teamsters!!!" "United Mine Workers." "I was thinking about union with a girl." "Okay, a girl Teamster, then." "What about us boy Teamsters? We have feelings, too" "IMU. where are you?" "Join the plumbers, they have union joints." "Get a union but call it an association. That's what the bosses do." "--the union. Let's all quit." "Everybody quit years ago." The literary quality may be mediocre, but considering that the stall is used by newspapermen, mediocre graffiti is a ptea4Btsurprise.'j:ve read duller stuff in the paper. Bronx local - his father had been president - and got a taste of the administration of labor as opposed to the doing of it, he dropped his pipe wrench for good. In 1935 he went doggedly after, and won, the chairmanship of his state federation of labor and in that single year pushed 72 labor bills through the legislature. Never mind that he never trod a picket line, negotiated a contract, or got his cloth cap stove in by company goons. Labor needed his kind of hero, too, and in four years Meany was summoned to Washington as the AFL secretary-treasurer. Labor's need for somebody in Washington to oil the machinery has never diminished, only increased. Under Meany. the AFL-CIO's legislative staff has grown from a group of dedicated amateurs to a smooth team of pros who coordinate the efforts of about 150 union lobbyists operating in Washington. It was also George Meany -- a fact not generally realized - who persuaded the AFL to abandon accustomed political neutrality and use its united muscle on behalf one " The "other woman" (never identified in his papers) made only one mistake, · i Km ...*Ji-iT-»»«-iliiorl T,nG man Hemingway judgeu more worthy than himself. . . ., The Hemingway collection, given to the Kennedy Library this year and housed temporarily in the Federal Records Center until a permanent home is built, contains 15,000 pages of manuscripts from Hemingway's published novels and short story collections and 3.000 photographs. THE MOST RECENT section of the papers opened to researchers is a collection of 12 letters from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Hemingway- Mrs. Hemingway chose the Kennedy Library because "there was a great mutual respect" between Hemingway and the youthful president, said Jo August, curator of the collection. Sometime this summer another 2.000 traiuy ana use its unueu mu»;ie vu w»a« U uu».u»«' -- --- of AdL Stevenson in the 1952 prudential pages of manuscnpts Irom tashto- race. Since then, labor's political presence has become so commonplace it was a real shf- 1 -": when Meany, 20 years later, abandoned McGovern, who had a 93 per cent pro-labor voting record, in his race with Nixon, whose record was 13 per cent. Aft- edl. Meany's rationale in 1952 for lead- inpig labor into the political thicket in the first place was Samuel Gomper's in- ries, newspaper and magazine articles will be available to researchers. Boxes of correspondence from Hemingway's father, mother, wives and literary friends are still being catalogued. But what is available even now is a feast for scholars and Hemingway fans. licked away in vaults at the Federal Records Center are the original yellowed pages, the smeared penciled notes, some From This Came 'Fafcwell to Arms' Hemingway Paper Reveals Hunt for Title

Get full access with a Free Trial

Start Free Trial

What members have found on this page