Reinventing unions for the 19th century

Posted: 30 October 2012 in Uncategorized
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Under the guise of modernizing unions, Sean Rust wants to send us back to the nineteenth century, before the National Labor Relations Act.

Under the NLRA today, a majority-supported union is given stringent rights regardless of the economic consequences, which can make unionization costly for business owners.  By reducing this cost, the results of returning to a pre-NLRA market-supported structure may be somewhat unexpected. With the right of workers to organize without retaliation remaining in place, a repeal of statutory bargaining requirements could make it easier for workers to organize and voice their opinions.  This is because unions would no longer have monopolistic power, which adds tension to an already adversarial situation. Businesses would have less to fear from unions, and thus would not be as adamant to quash organization efforts as they are today.

Rust is right about one thing: “The future of organized labor in the United States looks grim.” But the solution is not to end exclusive bargaining and create a situation in which unions only exist because they serve the interests of employers.

As long as one group of people is forced to have the freedom to sell their ability to work to another, much smaller group, there will be a need for workers to organize to improve the conditions of that exchange—as well as the conditions under which they work and the nature of the goods and services they produce. Reinventing unions doesn’t mean returning to the nineteenth century but, instead, to a situation in which unions recognize the needs of the larger communities within which they live and work, within and across national boundaries.

That would be a real union movement for the twenty-first century.

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