Union Chief Takes On White House

AFSCME leader gets very loud over health care reform
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2009 4:21 PM CDT
Gerry McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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(Newser) – The leader of one of the nation's biggest labor unions is not playing ball with the White House, writes Ben Smith. AFSCME's Gerry McEntee seems to be breaking the unwritten rule among progressives when dealing with this administration: Hush up, or we'll freeze you out. McEntee has repeatedly taken public stands against parts of the health care reform legislation—even blowing off a request from Rahm Emanuel to cool it—and the White House is fed up.

"We have had just about enough of his gratuitous slaps,” a senior official tells Smith in Politico, describing McEntee's behavior as "beyond the pale." McEntee is known for being irascible—a critical union member likes "blowhard" as a descriptor—and he's been on a roll of late with op-eds and newspaper ads complaining that reform could soak the middle class. But not everyone is upset. Says a spokesman for the AFL-CIO: "Sometimes being supportive means staking out a tough position, and nobody understands that better than President McEntee."