A new ethos of wage boards and worker power would help right the injustices in our economy.
Big business counterbalanced by big government and big labor. What could possibly go wrong?
There is a gap in business sense from the left view of labor that is ultimately detrimental to labor. Unions were a needed allowance back when employee protections did not exist. Today the book of labor law protecting employees is massive. So are the regulations to dictate workplace safety. So all that is really left is wage and benefit extortion of strike threat. And this isn't feasible in the long-run because of the example of Hostess Corporation.
Capital expects a return. Today we have a big problem in that domestic capital is chasing too many alternatives to those projects that would benefit domestic labor. Don't believe the government unemployment numbers... they are inflated by low-paying service jobs and don't count the number of people working part-time and working multiple jobs. They also ignore the regional disparity in unemployment denoted by Labor Surplus Areas (LSA).
The growing gap between corporate profits, executive pay and labor is largely a function of corporate consolidation and continued improvement in productivity from automation. Fewer workers are required and they are working for larger companies that sell products in an increasing global market... a global market that, unfortunately, includes labor as a global commodity.
If improvements in working class wages and benefits are the goal, it should be a long-term goal. And if a long-term goal then unionized wage extortion is the wrong solution. What is needed instead is restrictions on corporate consolidation so that there is greater competition and more investment opportunities for capital (many small businesses instead of three giant multinationals dominating the market). Tax incentives for hiring domestic labor.
But the primary solution to the problem with labor being left behind is to expand the ease and benefits of ESOPs. What we need instead of labor unions against management is for labor to share in ownership. They, labor, will have both skin in the game for supporting a profitable business while also being able to share in the returns of business ownership.
Union wage extortion is just a race to the bottom. We need better solutions.
I agree with the author's argument in essence. I'm pro-union. However, I'm not sentimental about unions.
We need to remember that a labor union is like a law firm. Its mission is not to pursue justice, but to advance the interests of its clients to the greatest possible extent (and thereby justify its keep as emphatically as possible). Eventually the union must itself run up against some countervailing force to keep it from doing harm.
We can remember that lesson about the way the world works, or we can keep re-learning it.
When trying to correct injustices in the economy, first understand that all politics is local, and all business is (now) global. Second, understand that governments can redistribute wealth and facilitate or hinder wealth creation, but governments cannot create wealth. Everything else is just commentary.
The problem I have with this perspective stems from my experience with unions. Forming a bureaucratic organization of any sort, including unions, provides a forum for ambition, status-seeking, and personal benefit. Moreover, union goals, such as maximizing the number of jobs, can make companies noncompetitive when cost structures where labor is a major component compete with either low labor cost foreign competitors or highly efficient, automated competitors. Workers and management have a shared interest in a company's success. Executive compensation as well as wages must recognize that or go down together.
Indeed, while redistribution and regulation have their place, empowering working class Americans is important in limiting corporate power and making the economy fairer. It’s also good when a writer points out that the New Deal wasn’t entirely pro labor, as with the Perkins quote. Southern and western business interests were major parts of the New Deal coalition, too, as Lind has written elsewhere. They didn’t like unions, but they shared unions’ opposition to the power of northeastern business.