Does Security Trump Union Rights?
July 24, 2002 3:47 PM   Subscribe

Does Security Trump Union Rights? It has always seemed to me that collective bargaining is a fair way for workers to create a balance of power. Do unions still have a role?

And how many rights is it okay to lose in the name of security?
posted by theora55 (7 comments total)
America has been anti-union for years on end. We are the only nation, along with S. Africa, in the industrialized nation that allows for permanent replacement of those on strike.
The National Relations Board does little or nothing but protect the "rights" of the management class. And why not? Congress is beholding to business and they never forget this. Just look at what a struggle it is to change minimum wages....
And the sad part is that so many Americans believing they are close to being right in there with the owners and managers, vote down unions or leave them so that the strength of unions in America has gone downhill year after year.
Just sort of wonder what those loyal workers losing their pensions now have to say about how the company takes care of them so they don't need unions.
posted by Postroad at 4:03 PM on July 24, 2002

Unions still exist?
posted by dagny at 4:05 PM on July 24, 2002

Exploitative employers still exist?
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:15 PM on July 24, 2002

i thought all employers were exploitative. isn't it just a case of how much they can get away with without it hurting profits (via productivity, fines, etc) too much? or are they doing it just to keep the workers happy?

unions are pretty much dead in the uk (at least they were, i see newspaper reports that they're beginning to make labour squirm a little). even here in chile, where (you could argue that) communists finally saved the day, the 1 may parade is an embarassingly small affair.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:04 PM on July 24, 2002

The Executive Order in question, and the President's explicit authority. Legally, it seems to be a matter of full discretion for the executive branch; Congress would have to change the law. They had 60 days to rescind this particular order; in fact, Congress has never directly overruled an Executive Order.
posted by dhartung at 1:56 AM on July 25, 2002

And how many rights is it okay to lose in the name of security?


Loved your last sentence Postroad. Couldn't agree more. I believe in power to balance power, something sorely missing today.
Who would have thought Dubya and Ashcroft would detest unions so? :)
And, correct me if I'm wrong, aren't these the same people that have done the same job for many years without having their loyalty to country questioned before now because of union membership? So what changed? The people or the level of paranoia? Is this another of the edges of a new McCarthyism regime? Did these orders come directly from Cheney's Dr. Evil's hideout?
posted by nofundy at 5:36 AM on July 25, 2002

Easy boys, does EVERY thread have to come back to Bush is Bad and the Terrorists Have Already Won? :)

Unions in the US are still very powerful, but have basically made themselves a combination of irrelevant and disliked, because of (a) corruption and ties to organized crime (mostly perceived, but perception is as good as the real thing, which is something most people ought to remember); (b) all-to-vigorous political activity at the expense of their politically diverse membership; (c) cost structures that reduced the ability of a company to competitively price in the world marketplace, thereby necessitating tariff structures and, ultimately, restricting free trade; and (d) an emplaced protection system whereby bad workers are protected and indulged, to the detriment of both management and good workers. If today's business world is anti-union, the unions did a good bit to help make it that way.

And although this really isn't the fault of the unions, the increasing technologization of American business produced a large workforce segment (basically: IT and related services) that otherwise might have been unionized, comprised of highly educated, technically competent independent mobile free-agents who sold their services to the highest bidder. There, labor exploited management very effectively, and they continue to do so (although not to the extent today as they did in say, 98-99). One could also make the argument that the union defined benefit pensions were also proving to be both vulnerable to corporate raiding and ultimately insufficient for comfortable retirement, as well as note myriad incidences of outright collusion between union management and corporate management at the expense of labor.

For better or worse, America culture (and therefore American capitalism) glorifies the rights and abilities of the individual, not the collective. Unionism is a collective activity, and therefore starts from a culturally suspect position initially. Egregious exploitation by corporations managed to overcome that suspicion, but now that ability to exploit is more controlled (by government limits, various regulating agencies, etc., recent events notwithstanding) and therefore the motivation to unionize is less poignant.

And let's not forget the very illustrative example of the baseball player's union, which travesty will be playing itself out in full view of the six-pack drinking public in the next couple months. NOT doing any favors for the cause of the workingman, there - and that sort of behavior has seemed to become the rule, rather than the exception.
posted by UncleFes at 6:52 AM on July 25, 2002

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