Union Gangsters: Leo Gerard

If Big Labor can’t get what it wants through the ballot box it’s time to start cracking skulls.

Don’t miss FrontPage’s other Union Gangsters profiles featuring Craig Becker, Richard Trumka, Stephen Lerner, Andy Stern, Jimmy Hoffa Jr., John Sweeney and Daniel De Leon.

The United Steelworkers (USW) Marxist president Leo Gerard believes if Big Labor can’t get what it wants through the ballot box it’s time to start cracking skulls.

The Canadian-born Gerard loves a brawl. In 1999 he helped the violent anarchists protesting in Seattle block access to the World Trade Organization meetings. USW sent 1,400 goons to shut the talks down. Gerard’s agitation helped to push Algoma Steel of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, into bankruptcy in the 1990s.

USW president since 2001, Gerard wholeheartedly supports the labor-backed Occupy Wall Street movement – and wants it to become even more violent.

“You’re damn right Wall Street occupiers speak for us,” he recently told left-wing radio host Ed Schultz. “They do in Pittsburgh, they do in Chicago, they do in Oakland, they do in San Francisco, they do all across the country. And I think what we need is, we need more militancy.”

But occupying cities isn’t enough in the view of this man who began his career in labor activism at age 11 by handing out leaflets before a strike.

Gerard explained that the Left needs to start a “resistance” movement. “If Wall Street occupation doesn’t get the message, I think we’ve got to start blocking bridges and doing that kind of stuff,” he said.

“And no wonder people are occupying. We ought to be doing more than occupying parks. We ought to start occupying bridges. We ought to start occupying the banks, places themselves.”

Gerard is a member of the AFL-CIO’s executive committee and chairman of its public policy committee.

He takes pride in the fact that the New York Times called him the “No. 1 scourge of free traders.” No wonder: A few days after Gerard visited President George W. Bush’s cabinet in 2001 the Bush administration slapped tariffs on imported steel. To help advance the protectionist agenda, President Obama named Gerard to the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations.

Like Karl Marx, Gerard has an interest in economics. He had planned to become an economics professor before taking a job in the labor movement. But interest doesn’t imply aptitude, and like Marx, he apparently has little understanding of economics.

In an economically illiterate screed Gerard proclaimed that America, with its $15 trillion in national debt and untold trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities, doesn’t “have a deficit crisis; we have a jobs crisis.”

He complained that the economic policies of the Obama administration aren’t statist enough. “In my own naiveté I was dumb enough to assume that a Democratic Congress and a Democrat in the White House would put us on a different path,” he said, arguing that massive government spending on the twin fantasies of clean energy and green technology would magically reduce unemployment.

If Obama won’t move forward with big new spending plans then it’s time to bring out the baseball bats, Gerard said. “We better face up to the fact that we have to hit the streets, kick some ass, and mobilize to do something about it,” he said.

I’m sick and tired of us whining about what the Democrats didn’t do. The tougher question is what are we doing, and do we have what it takes. Don’t worry about attacking Obama; attack the money! It’s Wall Street and the banks blocking a recovery and shipping our manufacturing abroad.

To Gerard, it is not radical leftist agitation that leads to violence but capitalism itself. Economic “inequality,” he says, “leads to instability and violence.”

And unions are on a holy mission to combat the evils of the market, he argues. “Unions are instruments of social and economic justice, and they’re instruments of democracy.”

Gerard has close ties to the neo-communist Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and to Canada’s socialist party, the New Democratic Party (NDP).

In 2007 the Chicago branch of DSA bestowed the Eugene Debs Award on Gerard. The honor is named after the five-time presidential candidate and labor organizer who founded the Socialist Party of America.

Other radical labor leaders and community organizers to receive the award are AFSCME Council 31 political director John D. Cameron (2011), SEIU executive vice president Eliseo Medina (2004), AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka (1994), Midwest Academy founder Heather Booth (1987), and United Farm Workers of America co-founder Dolores Huerta (1976).

It’s just a matter of time before President Obama gives Gerard the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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