Not Yet

Posted June 25, 2003 at 6:29pm

The AFL-CIO has postponed today’s meeting during which top union leaders were expected to review the fate of a multimillion-dollar political program funded by organized labor. The gathering is now scheduled for July 16, according to union insiders. [IMGCAP(1)]

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is trying to get labor leaders to come to an agreement on how much financial support they will provide the Partnership for America’s Families. Sweeney wants to bring together two factions that have clashed over the program, which is run by former AFL-CIO Political Director Steve Rosenthal.

Service Employees International Union President Andrew Stern, a Rosenthal ally and chairman of the board for the new tax-exempt group, asked Sweeney for the delay, said several labor sources. Stern has been traveling and wanted more time to prepare. Neither the AFL-CIO or SEIU would comment.

AFSCME President Gerald McEntee resigned from the group in May, spurring the current fight.

Burton’s Crusade. Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), joined by several well-known liberal House Democrats, has renewed his drive to strip former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover’s name from the agency’s headquarters in downtown Washington.

Burton, who has called Hoover’s 48-year reign as FBI director “a dark episode in American law enforcement,” introduced legislation last week that would redesignate the 935 Pennsylvania Ave. NW headquarters as the “Federal Bureau of Investigation Building.”

Burton actually began his campaign to remove Hoover’s name last summer. Martin Luther King III, son of the slain civil-rights leader, has urged Attorney General John Ashcroft to support the proposal, although DOJ officials declined to comment on the Indiana Republican’s initiative.

While Hoover is credited with helping to create and build the FBI into one of the country’s premier law-enforcement agencies, Hoover also used special agents under his control to further his own personal agenda, including engaging in political feuds with top civil- rights leaders such as King. In addition, Hoover’s critics charge that he failed to stop the growth of organized crime or even admit that it was a national problem.

Co-sponsors of Burton’s bill include Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), himself a well-known civil rights activist, as well as Reps. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Mel Watt (D-N.C.), John Tierney (D-Mass.), Diane Watson (D-Calif.). and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).

Burton’s bill has been referred to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

— John Bresnahan