Where Forth Labor Unions?

Nevada is one state where unions still play a significant role in political negotiations. A number of news outlets have published articles in lieu of the Nevada primary. The point was made that Mike Bloomberg has never publicly backed unions. It is true that as corporations gained political power during the end of the twentieth century, state governments in particular pushed hard to defund union membership, impose right-to-work legislation and otherwise paint bad images of unions.

Unions are no less saintly than politicians and corporate conservatives. All of them are aggressive in defending their perceptions of economic purpose. However, in this age where citizens no longer participate in the profits of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), where salaries linger at a small fraction of what they should be, where corporations are trying to drop benefits of any kind, having a union fight for a fair share for the workers may not be a bad idea. But unions represent only 1 in 10 hourly workers – down from 1 in 3 in 1955. State legislation in most states would have to go through a philosophical, highly opinionated and greatly resisted battle to reverse the disadvantages imposed over four decades.

Mariner wrote a post “About Labor Unions” (August 28 2019) that suggested the familiar union organization that has prevailed since the 1930s may not work in this new age of automation, rapid data learning and the ability for corporations to move operations anywhere in the world.

As corporations have become an economic force across governmental boundaries, it is difficult for unions to sustain equally flexible membership given location and nationality. Even more problematic, governments have difficulty managing corporations. In this campaign season where ‘socialistic’ ideas are being touted, union leaders may consider joining the national noise of the campaign to back a new national strategy for unionism.

Trying to maintain the traditional ‘local’ organization will not be influential enough to tackle market issues that cross national boundaries. In the recent post mariner suggested the ACLU organizational model. Further, mariner feels that a governmental agency (a new version of the Labor Department) could set regulatory policy similar to the Environmental Protection Agency today – Donald’s interference notwithstanding. The new labor department could negotiate treaties similar to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) except with a fair set of rules for workers.

In any case, righting the economic ship is more than just fixing taxes. It is setting new protective rules for workers in an age where moving from job to job may be the new norm and sustaining economic viability in unemployed neighborhoods may have to be part of the agreement language.

Ancient Mariner


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