Wednesday, May 14, 2008

MICKEY MOUSE UNIONISM

The ever vapid, rightward slouching Mickey Kaus adopts a Gingrichian position on unions: he opposes legislation to allow the card check system for workplace unionization. This means, given the NLRB's lax enforcement of anti-intimidation laws and its carte blanche to corporate anti-unionization campaigns, that many unions will face nearly insurmountable barriers to winning workplace elections. Then Kaus gets even worse: "It seems to me that a) a tight 90s-style labor market and b) direct government provision of benefits (e.g. health care, OSHA) accomplishes what we want traditional unions to accomplish, but on a broader basis and without encouraging a sclerotic, adversarial bureaucracy that gets in the way of the productive organization of work."

Note to Mickey: 1) we are in a troubled 00s-style labor market, not a tight 90s-stle labor market 2) direct government provision of benefits (eg health care) is still a distant dream for most workers, 3) working people's wages have been stagnant or declining for most of the last thirty five years. And as for "sclerotic, adversarial bureaucracy," well, Kaus should take a detour next time he's hobnobbing with the rich and famous in LA and spend a day or two with the creative organizers in unions like SEIU who are organizing janitors, nursing home workers, and other service sector employees in some of the least secure, most poorly paying jobs in the country. Or perhaps he should spend a few hours with the once-sclerotic United Steelworkers who are responding to globalization by collaborating with their counterparts overseas.

Footnote: Great minds think alike. Check out this astute critique of Kaus.