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(c) 2016 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Are unions necessary?

Today's post was shared by Steven Greenhouse and comes from www.latimes.com

Short answer: Yes.

The question is posed by an exchange launched by Evan Soltas at Bloomberg View, and answered by Michael Wasser of the workers rights organization Jobs for Justice. Soltas has defended himself against Wasser's response, so this could go on for a while.

The discussion was inspired by the recent defeat of a United Auto Workers drive at the Chattanooga, Tenn., plant of Volkswagen, which we discuss here. The case has inspired lots of commentary about the long-term decline of industrial unions in the U.S. and the role of that trend in the increasing of income inequality. The two trends coincide, so there really is no question that the decline of workers' voice and worker rights resulting from the decline of unions has played an important role in the rising power of the shareholding and managerial class.

One hates to say of a writer as fluent as Soltas that his analysis lacks the depth that would come from experience, but Wasser is certainly correct in arguing that Soltas' argument that the U.S. is better off without unions and "unions can't be saved" reflects the limitations of textbook-learning. A few specific issues:

To think that federal labor law has had "little to do" with union decline, as Soltas puts it, is hopelessly naive. He's misled by the fact that union membership has fallen even though we have laws guaranteeing the right to collective bargaining, and by the failure to recognize how inadequately those...

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