Friday, December 05, 2003

Via Suburban Guerrilla is this story in the WaPo.
    The presidents of the nation's two largest unions angrily demanded that Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) dismiss one of his senior advisers yesterday, charging that she threatened to try to retaliate if their unions campaigned for former Vermont governor Howard Dean in Missouri.

    Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), whose unions have endorsed Dean, charged that, at a meeting Monday that included Missouri Gov. Bob Holden (D), Joyce Aboussie, the vice chair of Gephardt's presidential campaign, issued an "ultimatum" to representatives of the two unions.

    The ultimatum, McEntee and Stern said, also included demands that AFSCME and the SEIU use none of their Missouri members to campaign for Dean in Iowa, that the unions make no independent expenditures in Missouri for Dean and that they not communicate with their Missouri members about Dean's candidacy.

    If the unions did not abide by the demands, the two union presidents said, Aboussie said she would send a letter to the Republican leaders of the Missouri House and Senate, signed by some Democratic state representatives and senators, calling for the repeal of the governor's executive order providing state workers with collective-bargaining rights.

    "This was an unconscionable and outrageous act," McEntee and Stern wrote to Gephardt. "You should disassociate yourself from Ms. Aboussie, immediately remove her from your campaign and issue a written retraction of her threats."
Gephardt may have just sunk his campaign with this. I know that rank and file union members do not take kindly to shenanigans such as these. In the meantime, I do look forward to hearing Ms. Aboussie's side of the story.

Update: From a dKos diary comes news of Ms. Aboussie's response in this article. This piece provides the backdrop for the meeting. Ms Aboussie does apologize but I wonder if there is any real remorse in her response.
    She noted that Gephardt had lobbied Holden to issue the executive order on collective bargaining. She then added that "I could get a letter together" of Democratic legislators who might support rescinding the executive order. Aboussie said her point was not a threat, but an illustration of what the Gephardt camp could do, but wouldn't.

    "If that's how it was perceived, I apologize," she said. "I was passionate, but I wasn't screaming."

    But in a letter released Wednesday, the Washington presidents of the two unions, Gerald McEntee and Andrew Stern, said Aboussie's threats had been abundantly clear.
In any case, this incident highlights how the Gephardt campaign functions and makes me wonder who really runs the show.