Sunday, March 15, 2015

Liberate Unions

Mark Ames has written a rant against Michigan passing the right to work law:
Howard Zinn would have been proud.
While all his facts seem correct he has missed the point about the Wagner act. The reason for all the atrocities he lists and for the Wagner act itself was that the unions were winning. If the unions had been losing the act would not have passed.  It is true that violence decreased after the act but that can also be explained as a consequence of the constraint on organizing. 
As the act itself makes clear the unions were winning because they had finally developed the rolling wildcat strike and the boycott.  It would have been difficult to ban these two super weapons without giving something in return so the strike as an election process was developed. 
The established unions were willing to trade because they thought they had won and saw little hope of organizing the rest of the labor force.  As we now can see this was a mistake. Even worse they conceded the organizing of trade unions for new industries.  A phone marketers union would have to petition for exemption from antitrust law.  A company can demand that the company be the bargaining unit rather than a trade.
As Ames himself points out, the current process makes organizing new unions almost impossible. The unions are jailed and the companies are fined. We would be far better off without the department of labor.  Is it surprising that the abandonment of the unorganized workers and destruction of our current unions has led to a massive right wing reaction in America?

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