'Glenn Beck:' The Struggle Between Black Americans and Labor Unions

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," June 23, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: We have been talking about the history of racism in the labor unions and you need to understand what labor leaders stood for in this country.

Paul Moreno — he is the associate professor of history at Hillsdale College. He is the author of this book, "Black Americans and Organized Labor: A New History." Paul, you have been watching the show back in the green room?


BECK: Have I gotten anything wrong?

MORENO: Well, the basic point that race has been used as a tool by organized labor is in a different way.

BECK: I have a feeling that I am — I'm making all the wrong enemies. I have a feeling I'm in trouble with the labor unions. They're not going to be happy with today's show, correct?

MORENO: Nobody likes their dirty laundry to be aired.

BECK: Nobody likes to do that. Yes. Sure. I understand that. OK. And what is going to be said is because Trumka just did interview with "New York Times," did he not?

MORENO: They did a profile of him where he told the usual story that unions had been the victims of employers manipulating racial feeling where it has more often been the other way around.

BECK: OK. I just want to show this. This is an editorial. This is written by Frederick Douglass. This was in — was it the "New York Times"?

MORENO: His own newspaper, the "New National Era."

BECK: OK, "New National Era." Frederick Douglass — give me the history before I read the quote.

MORENO: Well, Douglas himself and his son had been a typographer. And they had seen first hand discriminatory action by labor unions. Douglass himself had been ship's caulker in Baltimore and his son who was excluded from the typographers' union.

BECK: OK. So here is what — here is what he said — are you ready? "On more than one occasion, we have attempted to convince the working men of the injury to their interest of labor unions of the country and also their oppressions and their tyrannical course towards fellow workers as well as to their employers. The history of these organizations generally managed, not by industrious workmen themselves, but by unprincipled demagogues who control them for their own benefit, furnishes abundant proof almost every day of their mischievous influence upon every industrial interest in the country."

This seems to me to be the exact same story that happens today. It's not the union workers. It's the people at top that have convinced the workers that hey — do you know what I mean?

MORENO: Yes. And considering the fact that we have a system of compulsory unionism in America, where the majority of the — of work union wants to join the union. The minority are forced to join whether they want to or not.

BECK: OK. So I want to get into — I want to get into a little more of the history of the unions with you here in a sec. But I want to ask you this. There is — I'm trying to remember the labor union where if you opt out, you still have to pay dues.

You still — you can't ever get out of these things, right? How is this, when you look at history and when the unemployment goes up, when there are problems and they start blaming things on the banks, on the capitalists, et cetera, et cetera.

Marxist, communist, revolutionaries and the unions use race and everything else. Is there a way to diffuse this other than just knowing history?

MORENO: Well, I think if you look at black Americans — black Americans especially, for a long time, they opposed labor unions because they understood the basic principle of equality before the law and the individual rights and those sort of classic liberal principles, so that even though they understood that the unions discriminated on basis of race, they had reasons to oppose unions on a non-racial basis as well because they really don't benefit the workers generally.

You can make a strong argument that they don't even benefit their own members because of the way they the press the overall economics.

BECK: Wouldn't we be reversing the racism here? Wouldn't — because the numbers are growing. Whites are diminishing and Hispanics are growing, et cetera, et cetera. Wouldn't it be in the best interest?

I mean, I hear SEIU and everybody else doing this. They're reaching out to the illegal immigrant. Do you see a reverse racism coming?

MORENO: Maybe a reversal of the way race is being used in that I think SEIU and the labor movement today, which is principally about public employees, not the private sector employees -

BECK: Right.

MORENO: Because unions pretty much froze them out of the economy.

BECK: Hang on. I've got a break. Finish that sentence you were saying. I have a hard network break. Sorry. Nine seconds.


BECK: OK. We are running out of time. You have to do your own homework. Read this book. This is "Black Americans and Organized Labor: A New History" by Paul Moreno. There it is. I mean, I just opened it up and what does it go to? The Wilson administration. I hate that guy.

Real quick, let me just ask you this. Finish your thought real quickly that we had in the last break.

MORENO: Yes. A hundred years ago or so, when unionization was in the private sector only -

BECK: Yes, yes.

MORENO: Public sector couldn't organize, as you said. It made sense for unions to exclude blacks because they were doing what any other cartel, like OPEC does. You want to limit the supply so you can raise the price.

Today, now that private sector employment is disappearing and private sector unions are declining, in the public sector, a different economic incentive is there. There, you want to broaden numbers because you are bringing in really not so much the union members as the voters.


MORENO: So I think the strategy today is to bring these people, get them voting Democratic and the Democratic Party will enact card check and other kinds of legislation.

BECK: OK. All right. America, I want you to know — this is controversial stuff. But you need to ask these questions and think along these lines. Read the book. And anybody who says, "Oh, that's old history," I'll bet you those are the same people that say our founders were racists. I'm just saying.

Learn more about "Black Americans and Organized Labor: A New History" at Amazon.com

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