From remarks last month by AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland during a management symposium at the St. Gallen School of Business Administration in Switzerland:

It is a troubling time for the Western corporation. But those troubles cannot be laid at the door of the trade union movement. . . .

It was not the unions that created the staggering trade deficit that threatens the American economy -- not unless you believe that it would be a good thing if American wages and living conditions were reduced to the levels prevailing in Taiwan or Mexico.

It was not the unions that created the international debt crisis. We did not press the banks into making imprudent loans at usurious interest rates to Third World countries to bankroll the pet projects of assorted dictators around the world.

Regrettably, however, it is the workers of those countries who will bear the burden of debt repayment under conditions of austerity imposed by the IMF and the World Bank. And it is American workers whose jobs are imperiled as these countries are encouraged by the banks to earn hard currency by dumping their exports in the United States while restricting their imports. So it will not do to blame the unions for the problems besetting the corporation, although this continues to be a popular sport in many Western democracies.

Nor can these problems be attributed to increasing intervention by the state. In this decade, the political trend in the United States and Western Europe has been toward less state intervention, not more.

No, today the corporation is under siege from within, its vulnerabilities exposed by the gyrations on Wall Street, the indictments for insider trading, {and} the continuing merger mania. . . .