Open thread Sept. 4, 2018 Dan Crawford | September 4, 2018 6:46 am Tags: open thread Comments (3) | Digg Facebook Twitter |
“The Center for American Progress (CAP), one of Washington, DC’s most influential liberal think tanks with deep ties to the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton campaign, has proposed a big idea for raising Americans’ wages.
A paper by CAP’s David Madland calls for the creation of national wage boards, tasked with setting minimum wage and benefit standards for specific industries. Fast-food companies, say, would send representatives to meet with union officials and other worker representatives, and hammer out a deal that ensures workers get a fair shake. Same goes for nurses, or retail workers, or home health aides, or accountants….
Labor unions in America today are in crisis. In the mid-1950s, a third of Americans belonged to a labor union. Now, only 10.7 percent do, including a minuscule 6.4 percent of private sector workers. The decline of union membership explains as much as a third of the increase in inequality in the US, has caused voter turnout among low-income workers to crater, and has weakened labor’s ability to check corporate influence in DC and state capitals.
The future for traditional unions looks so bleak that a growing number of labor scholars and activists are coming to the conclusion that the US model, which relies on individual workers in individual workplaces getting together and organizing on their own, is dead and can’t be revived. What’s needed, they argue, is a more national or industry-wide approach to supplement or replace the old model of individual workplace-level organizing.
“In 2016, we had the most pro-labor president since the 1960s, the most pro-labor secretary of labor since [FDR’s Secretary] Frances Perkins, an economy with shrinking unemployment and rising wages — and yet we lost a quarter-million union members in the United States,” says David Rolf, president of SEIU 775, a local union representing home care workers in Washington and Montana. “We need to be trying everything.”
The solution, Rolf and others have come to believe, is to look to strategies that have worked abroad. Most European countries still have far greater levels of union coverage than the US. As of 2013, more than two-thirds of workers in Denmark, Sweden, and Finland were union members. In France and Austria, a minority of workers are in unions, but 98 percent are covered by collective bargaining contracts.
Not coincidentally, none of those countries relies as heavily on workplace-by-workplace organizing as the US does. In its stead, they use:
Wage boards setting minimums for whole industries or occupations, like the ones Madland proposes.
Works councils, which are committees elected by workers in their workplaces meant to serve as a vehicle to register concerns and resolve disputes with management, even in workplaces that are not union-organized.
Codetermination, a system in which workers have the ability to elect members to the company’s corporate board, giving them a voice in the company’s high-level decision-making.
Union-administered unemployment insurance, which gives workers a reason to join unions and pay dues even if their specific workplace isn’t organized with a given union.”
I just woke up — so I sent emailed these two messages to Dylan Matthews:
MY LATEST SPAM:
Quick reset of the American labor market:
FIRST, recognize that old fashioned union organizing as we knew it may safely be declared dead (forever!) in this country. Even if we now make union busting a fed felony and hire (tens of?) thousands of fed investigators, what’s to keep millions of business owners and managers from laughing it off, asking: “What are you going to do, lock up all the business know how of the country?”
SECOND, observe Repub: H.R.2723 (115th Congress) — Employee Rights Act
“(2) require union recertification after a turnover in the workforce exceeding 50% of the bargaining unit”
THIRD, think blue wave Dem modification: H.R.2723 (1/2) — 116th Congress — All Employees Rights Act
“(1) Require union cert/recert/decert elections at all private workplaces — option for one, three or five year cycles, local plurality rules.”
* * * * * *
Remember; all those blue collar, swing states that have swung supposedly irretrievably into the Republican column voted for Obama — not just over Wall Street Romney in 2012 — but over Viet war hero, half-sensible Republican John McCain in 2008. Looking for someone thought might finally hear out their complaints (no joy)
Promise their own econ and pol power back any time they want to vote to cert and they can easily be persuaded to return to the party of their long belonging.
THEN I SEPARATELY EMAILED HIM THIS ENTIRE PRINTED OUT ANDREW STROM ESSAY COMPLETE WITH ITS LINKS:
I don’t know what’s so difficult in simply picking up the Repub idea for regularly scheduled cert elections — or should I say decert/recert elections in the Repub case because they only want to mandate that employees who already have a union have a regularly scheduled chance to leave it.
I didn’t read Dylan’s article yet but scanning tells me it’s “oughteen” ways to mimic organizing that nobody can do straightforwardly anymore. Just skip organizing and go straight for elections — couldn’t be simpler OR MORE DEMOCRATIC. NO, EM?
The results of the 2008 election should not be used as an example of what can happen, other than the importance of turnout. Of course those states can be won by a Dem candidate. But the election in 2008 was a backlash against bush and the war and the impending recession, that brought out turnover.
Never forget that your comments about McCain (largely true until 2000 with a late shot at trump) ignore that he named sarah fen palin as his VP.
In terms of your conclusions, I cannot disagree more. Elections, unless you are talking about FDR like numbers, will do nothing to help unions. And don’t ignore that those states that are right to work are not going to go blue in the remote future, they have been dominated by the gop for decades, including those rust belt states you mentioned.
But it it actually worse. Behind those states lie the US Supreme Court, which also will stop any federal pro union legislation
“Monday is Labor Day and, on Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin hearings into the nomination and inevitable confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to a lifetime position on the Supreme Court of the United States. Much of the attention— rightly—will be drawn to Kavanaugh’s dreadful history on reproductive rights, as well as to whatever is stashed away in the 100,000 documents that the administration* is keeping buried regarding what Kavanaugh did during the torture years under President George W. Bush. But it shouldn’t be overlooked that his record on labor issues is every bit as retrograde as any other part of his Federalist Society bona fides………
Sooner or later, though, all of this energy is going to run up against a federal court system, and a Supreme Court, that is going to be marbled all the way through with judges who’ve come up on the same assembly-line as Brett Kavanaugh. In the history of this country, there has not been an expansion of the middle-class without a strong, vibrant union presence. That doesn’t change just because factories move to Mexico, or because of robots. There simply is no other way for wages to rise generally other than having the people receiving those wages bargain collectively for them. That Labor Day is still a holiday at all, I guess, is something for which we can give thanks. The attack on labor itself begins again on Tuesday.”
We need to use everything we possibly can to improve labor conditions. Relying on our past union policies is a dead end, politically and judicially. We need other options.