If I Had a Spammer

This is a time of healing. It’s the holiday season, and all partisan bickering is being set aside. But still. I was intrigued by a sentence at the end of the Wall Street Journal’s “Work Week” column this morning indicating that the AFL-CIO is making available on its Web site various grump e-greeting cards intended for the spamming of America’s corporate leaders.

It’s true: There’s a selection of six mostly snarky greetings featuring cartoons by Ted Rall. Card 4, for instance, is designed for “a Bad Boss” and features a member of management informing an employee that “I had to choose between paying myself a year-end bonus and firing you.” “I’ll clean out my desk,” the employee responds. The site is set up in such a way that you can supposedly send this electronic greeting to Jack Welch of GE (“Soon after setting a contract with workers at a GE facility in Indiana,” the site explains, “Welch promptly closed the plant, leaving 2,500 people in the street”), Dick King of Labor Ready, or John Rowe of Commonwealth Edison. It’s also apparently possible to send it to any other CEO or manager whose e-mail address you happen to have.

There are also cards for sniping at compassionate conservatives (ready-made for delivery to Marvin Olasky and others), union-busters (including Delta Airlines’ CEO), free traders (such as Phil Knight of Nike), and “health and safety villains.” Grudgingly, there’s one nice card, earmarked for Kaiser Foundation Chairman David Lawrence, Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles, and, curiously, Al Gore. (Something tells me that whatever e-mail accounts these cards go to are not accounts checked on with any great regularity by the alleged recipients.)

I guess it’s damning with faint praise to observe that the cards are amusing by the standards of union discourse. Funnier than the cards themselves, actually, is the idea of the virtual protest, downgrading the threat of labor unrest to a round of labor peskiness. Perhaps it’s difficult for the workers of the world to force management to hear their concerns, but at least they can try to force management to hit the delete key.