Quote of the Day, Union Edition

“Collective bargaining in the years since has played a major role in America’s economic miracle. Unions represent some of the freest institutions in this land. There are few finer examples of participatory democracy to be found anywhere. Too often, discussion about the labor movement concentrates on disputes, corruption, and strikes. But while these things are headlines, there are thousands of good agreements reached and put into practice every year without a hitch.”
Ronald Reagan

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Quick Takes, US Politics
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. Of course Reagan wasn’t talking about public sector unions. And he famously, and rightly, fired all the PATCO workers when they broke the law by going on strike.

  2. Alex Knapp says:

    As governor, Ronald Reagan signed the legislation that permitted government workers to organize into unions. He supported, and negotiated with, public sector unions. He also thought that they should not be allowed to strike. On that issue, I agree with him.

  3. Steve says:

    I don’t believe he was for “card check.” Do you? No democracy, there.

  4. John Peabody says:

    He shifted, rightly (pun not intended) from his days as President of the Screen Actors Guild.

  5. legion says:

    A century ago, unions were absolutely vital to placing some sort of limits on the power of corporations; the US gov’t was totally beholden to business interests, and completely incapable of (and uninterested in) performing any more than cursory oversight or regulation.

    In the middle of the 20th century, unions themselves became just as corrupt and power-focused as the companies they once put in check.

    Now, the pendulum is swinging back towards labor’s (and society’s) need for an effective counter to the nearly unchecked power of Big Business.

    You want to know what France looked like 5 years before the guillotine came out? Look at Wisconsin today…

  6. mantis says:

    What, Doug’s not coming back to admit he’s full of shit on Reagan and public sector unions? Big surprise…

  7. tom p says:

    Unions represent some of the freest institutions in this land. There are few finer examples of participatory democracy to be found anywhere.

    Alex, thank you. Now I know what to put on my next protest sign. (for the record, you gave me what I put on my last sign… a certain pie chart)

  8. ALP says:

    Where in the Constitution is a “Right” to organize a Labor Union?
    If it is not there, does this mean that Federal Workers can’t organize, and only States may
    pass laws to allow the organization of Labor Unions?

    Everyone talks about “Rights” concerning Unions. Where are they?

  9. Terrye says:

    I have been watching the polls and it seems to me that most people do not really know what collective bargaining is. For instance a poll will say most people think the public service unions should have their collective bargaining rights protected…but most people also want them to pay more for pensions and health care and they think it is ok to freeze their pay. Or most people will say they support the unions but don’t want tax hikes..or there will be another poll such as Quinnipiac in which a plurality will actually support Governor. It makes no sense. If they asked a question such as…do you think it is a good idea to have money taken from your check by the state government and given to a union even if you don’t want to be in the union…I have a feeling the response to this would be a majority no as well.

    I think the Governor of Wisconsin is right here. But I also think he has let this stalemate go on too long and the people of Wisconsin are getting tired of it.

    And btw, my husband was a teamster for years…but these folks out there are not teamsters, they are public service employees and they are paid by taxpayers. I think some folks are forgetting that. If they took the deal Walker offered they would still have more rights and more money than most of the people paying the taxes that support them. They are abusing the socalled right to collective bargaining.

  10. Terrye says:

    mantis:

    Reagan was also called a union buster by the left..so if doug is supposed to admit he was wrong about Reagan maybe some of the idiots on the left who have been deriding his position on unions for decades should do the same.

    The truth is Reagan was president of a union himself..but then again Reagan went through a political change later in his life and he changed parties, from Democrat to Republican. I think that a lot of the people who supported public unions in those days underestimated the corruption and the costs of these unions…it is a lot like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Now Governors all over the country are trying to find ways to pay the bills.

  11. Barry says:

    ALP says:

    “Where in the Constitution is a “Right” to organize a Labor Union?”

    A new twist on rights.

  12. mantis says:

    Reagan was also called a union buster by the left..so if doug is supposed to admit he was wrong about Reagan maybe some of the idiots on the left who have been deriding his position on unions for decades should do the same.

    Ok, fine. Any of them here? Bueller? Bueller?

    The truth is Reagan was president of a union himself..but then again Reagan went through a political change later in his life and he changed parties, from Democrat to Republican.

    You realize the quote at the top of this page is from a speech given by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1981, right? Care to rethink your statement?

  13. anjin-san says:

    > “Where in the Constitution is a “Right” to organize a Labor Union?”

    I would think free association is implicit within the First Amendment. Or do you feel that teachers should have to approach a state governor on bended knee and beg his leave for permission to organize?

    Welcome to tea party America…

  14. anjin-san says:

    mantis –

    I don’t think Terrye has any interest in who Reagan really was. There is the fantasy Reagan that the right has elevated to sainthood, its much easier to just use the fiction. The Reagan who praised unions lavishly or did not play little league when he was a boy because he was afraid of getting beaned is of no use to them.