Archive for Tuesday, September 7, 1999

September 7, 1999

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To the editor:

The Journal-World calls the late Lane Kirkland a "labor boss" (8/15/99, page 2A).

Apparently it is OK to talk about crime bosses and political bosses and labor bosses. On the other hand, no one publicly calls a CEO a "business boss." In other words, CEOs get more respect. Or to put it more clearly: the Journal-World likes business managers appointed by rich people better than it likes labor leaders democratically elected by workers. And shows it by slanting its news accounts.

In point of fact, Kirkland never was a labor boss in any sense. He never headed a union local or international. He never handled a grievance, called a strike or negotiated a contract. What he did was head the AFL-CIO, which is a service organization with very little power over individual unions, let alone workers. (When the Teamsters and the UAW left the AFL-CIO, they continued to do quite well, thank you.)

Business leaders, on the other hand, really are bosses. At work, that's what just about everybody calls them. But to be polite, we don't usually call them that in news columns.

Obituaries in the Kansas City Star and many other papers referred to Kirkland as a labor LEADER, which he inarguably was. Calling him a boss is tendentious and rude.

David Burress,

Lawrence.

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