Thursday, September 05, 2013

On benefits at stake

Martin Regg Cohn is right to note that there's no empirical support for attacks on unions when it comes to jobs or economic development:
Why then is Hudak trying to turn the clock back? He points to the rise of Right to Work states in the U.S., where right-wing legislators have triumphed against unions in a historical battle that has its roots in the Deep South. The movement has recently spread to nearby Michigan and Indiana, so Ontario must now graft this foreign ideology onto its economy to remain competitive, Hudak argues.
The benefits? Lower unionization rates and lower wage rates.
You can pick your study to suit your point of view, but it’s hard to disagree with the OFL’s bottom line: the arguments against unions are entirely ideological, not empirical. And while ideologues get bogged down by unprovable arguments about how destroying unions creates jobs, they ignore the undeniable benefits to workplace health and safety from unionization (which ultimately lowers hospitalization costs for employers and taxpayers).
But Cohn falls short of drawing all of the connections worth associating with a labour movement capable of standing up for workers' interests - including reducing inequality and boosting voter turnout.

So when your local Chamber of Commerce starts bleating about fighting against a "union agenda", that's what it's really seeking to squelch at all costs: an engaged public looking to shape its own destiny and ensure both decent wages for workers, and a fair distribution of public resources. And we'll find out soon whether Regina voters value those factors more than easy profits for the wealthy.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:44 p.m.

    I have winger parents and I know the answer. It's about votes, not economic policy. There is no logic involved, other than political logic. It's about playing to the resentments of those (usually well-off) people in their base who believe workers have it too easy now and the unions are coming to get their money. It's simply the winger instinct to build up boogeymen and enrage others into supporting policies that stick it to them - paralleled in their approach to foreign policy, I might add. Pure cynicism. After many years of following debates, I have come to believe the wingers don't really believe in most of what they say. This is most evident in their clinging to, and doubling down on, now discredited neo-liberal theories.