The Enemy Within, Robert F. Kennedy Essay

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The Enemy Within, Robert F. Kennedy The Enemy Within by former New York Senator and U.S. Attorney General Robert. F. Kennedy is a reflection on the state of the labor-management relations during the 1950’s. Specifically, Mr. Kennedy describes the tumultuous and trying three year period from 1957 to 1959 where he sat as chief counsel of the United States Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor and Management (commonly referred to as the McClellan Committee). The committee’s thorough investigations and diligent work ethic ultimately led to the passing of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act into law in 1959. The committee spent a significant amount of time looking into the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (the Teamsters), beginning with their president from 1952 to 1957, Mr. David Beck. Issues uncovered during the investigation were plentiful. Chief among them was the misappropriation of union funds for personal benefit. It was discovered that Mr. Beck had used third parties to purchase expensive goods on his behalf or perform services and he would then reimburse them with union funds. There was loose to inexistent accounting controls over the money, and to the extent they did exist it was easy for high ranking officials to supersede such controls. One example of this includes Mr. Beck or even Frank Brewster’s (head of the Western Conference of Teamsters) ability to simply instruct the treasurer write a blank check. Another was setting up and allocating money to special funds which only Beck had access to and needed to approval to set up or withdraw upon. “Loans” to union officials with poor paper trails were common. The corruption was not limited to improper use of union funds. The members of the unions, the rank and file, were taken advantage of in other ways as well. The contracts that were 1 signed between the labor unions

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