I was not a fan of Ted when he was alive and expressed this dissenting opinion, on several occasions, in our local rag, The Boston Globe, after Kennedy’s recurring lapses as a friend of the working class became too painful to ignore. Ted Kennedy was not on labor’s side when key public policy shifts were engineered that disastrously weakened and marginalized American unions. After helping to deliver these legislative hammer blows, Ted was quick to offer his hand to a labor movement now lying flat on its back. But forms of assistance like boosting the minimum wage, helping immigrants, securing local defense plant jobs, or co-sponsoring the Employee Free Choice Act have hardly compensated for the ravages of “neoliberalism” that Kennedy aided and abetted.
Calling Kennedy an Architect of Deregulation, Early writes:
In several key industries—trucking, the airlines, and telecom--nothing has undermined union membership and bargaining power more than de-regulation. Kennedy embraced de-regulation with gusto and, despite his other differences with Jimmy Carter thirty years ago, helped ram through industry restructuring harmful to hundreds of thousands of workers and their union contracts. By 1985, as Kim Moody describes in U.S. Labor in Trouble and Transition, the number of workers covered by the Teamsters’ biggest trucking contract had been halved. Today, fewer than 100,000 work under the National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA)—down from 450,000 before Carter and Kennedy transformed the role of the Interstate Commerce Commission and codified that regulatory change via the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. The business-backed policy agenda “that would become known as ‘Reaganomics’ or more generally as neoliberalism,” had its roots in the Carter Administration, Moody points out. Two of its key objectives were deregulation and free trade; the first having been accomplished under Carter, the second was pursued with equal fervor and further Kennedy legislative vigor after Clinton became president.
In addition to Kennedy's deregulation transgressions, Early also accuses Kennedy of failing to support Nynex strikers during a bitter 1989 strike over health care, as well as Kennedy's free-trade credentials. To read more of Early's list of Kennedy "sins," go here.
Hmmm. Before the Labor Left determines to canonize the Liberal Lion of the Senate, perhaps Kennedy's alleged labor creds should be more closely examined?