Friday, December 15, 2006

Union Yes!

This week, The Nation's editors decided to highlight the Economic Free Choice Act, which would allow card-check recognition for unions. While I have my disagreements with The Nation, I also tend to be impressed when they write something regarding labor and the importance of Unions. In the editorial, Recognizing Labor (unfortunately, subscription only), note the following:

The legislation will not succeed even in the House without a massive push, not only by mobilizing the army of union stewards and activists from the AFL-CIO but also by all progressive organizations. This is not just a labor issue. It's first of all an issue of basic human rights and democracy, including freedom of association and speech. Strengthening workers' rights is also critical for creating a fairer, more just America. There is a direct link between the decline of union power over the past three decades and the rise of economic inequality and the shift of economic risk from employers and government to individuals. Members obviously gain most from unionization, but all workers--and society as a whole--benefit. Where unions are stronger, all wages are higher, pensions and healthcare plans are better, workplaces are safer and poverty rates are lower.

The one qualm that I have with the message around this legislation is that we have not adequately dealt with the issue that "elections" in the context of management are not "free-and-fair" elections, but tend to resemble Saddam-era elections. I think that it is important to publish (as The Nation's editors do), the issues that are often faced by members when they are trying to get an election.

My other fear comes from other "progressives" who think that unions were really important, but "have no place in our modern economy." I only hope that they will follow The Nation's lead and take this issue to heart.


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