Gersh Kuntzman's February 12 column in the New York Post reported on the debate over term limits on New York's City Council, but it was his swipe at unions that got the most buzz in city newsrooms, bringing together old foes of the columnist who calls himself "Metro Gnome."
At the end of the column, Kuntzman quotes a political insider who predicts that if they can get rid of the incumbents in the City Council, a lot of "high-quality people" will run. Then the insider names three likely candidates, to which the columnist responds that only one of the names is legit, the others being a "political hack" and "a union guy." Then comes one of Kuntzman's patented wisecracks: "Yeah, I always search union halls when I'm looking for the most qualified, most broad-minded candidates."
If Kuntzman deplores the unions, the feeling is mutual. During the Daily News strike in 1990, at a time when everyone else was on the picket line, he took a job as a "replacement" worker at the News. That's the kind of wound that never heals, and a few union men would like to remind Kuntzman of Jack London's definition of a scab:
"After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, and the vampire, he had some awful stuff left with which he made a scab. A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water-logged brain and a combination backbone made of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles. Judas Iscariot was a gentleman compared to a scab. For betraying his master he had the character to hang himself: The scab hasn't. There is nothing lower than a scab."
Kuntzman was out of town and could not be reached for comment.