Rep. Dogan Should Take the Time to Review Labor History

By on November 28, 2017

by John S. Gaal, EdD
Director of Training and Workforce Development
STL-KC Carpenters Regional Council

Regarding state Rep. Shamed Dogan’s commentary “Unions ignore long history of excluding minorities from jobs”, which appeared in the Post-Dispatch on Nov. 14:

It never ceases to amaze me that so many of the far-right people who are elected to represent the public either missed their K-12 lessons on labor history or have selective memory with regard to all the facts.

So allow me to provide a refresher: The sponsors of the Davis-Bacon Act, James J. Davis and Robert L. Bacon, were Republicans. Interestingly enough, U.S. Sen. Davis once served as U.S. secretary of labor. More importantly, these two gentlemen are the “fathers” of prevailing wage laws at the national level dating to 1931. It seems a bit odd that a member from the same party is not aware of what his beloved forefathers enacted.

For Rep. Dogan to suggest that labor unions are excluding minorities or women in 2017 is not only an insult but a bald-faced lie. I highly recommend that he take the time to properly research his subject matter prior to penning another article.

I wrote a commentary for this newspaper about the White House’s recognition of the Building Union Diversity program in 2015. Since 2014, BUD has graduated more than 90 percent of its enrollees and placed more than 80 percent of its graduates in registered apprenticeship programs.

Rather than falsely attack labor unions, Rep. Dogan should be encouraging groups like Better Family Life and the Urban League to focus a greater share of their work toward preparing and sending qualified candidates to the BUD program. To date, neither of these organizations has played a significant role in BUD’s recruiting efforts.

Finally, I send this message as a warning to Rep. Dogan and the rest of his group-thinkers: Stop the dog whistle politics. Terms like “union bosses” and “forced dues” are akin to hate speech. Once again, Rep. Dogan should do his homework: The Beck decision addressed the latter decades ago.

About Tom Finan