The Free Market and Unions
Kevin Carson has some interesting thoughts about the intersection of unions, management, and government. Here’s a snippet:
The most obvious forms of state intervention that hobble labor are legislation like:
1) The provisions of Taft-Hartley which criminalize sympathy and boycott strikes;
2) The Railway Labor Relations Act and the “cooling off” provisions of Taft-Hartley, which enable the government to prevent a strike from spreading to common carriers and thus becoming a general strike; and
3) “Right-to-Work” (sic) laws, which restrict the freedom of contract by forbidding employers to enter into union shop contracts with a bargaining agent.
Further, we should examine the extent to which even ostensibly pro-labor laws, like the Wagner Act, have served in practice to weaken the bargaining power of labor. Before Wagner, what is today regarded as the conventional strike — an announced walkout associated with a formal ultimatum — was only one tactic among many used by unions.
The model of industrial unionism established under Wagner had actually been advocated before then by a major segment of capital. Industrial unionism, and the New Deal labor accord in general, was supported by large, capital-intensive, export-oriented industries for which labor costs were a relatively modest part of the entire cost package, but which had long planning horizons and the need for long-term stability and predictability. These industries were willing to trade significant wage increases, job security and improved working conditions in return for more stable control of the production process. They were willing to offer seniority and productivity-based wage increases, in return for a union policy of “letting the managers manage.”
Read the whole thing. There’s some interesting stuff in there.