Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Louis Uchitelle discusses how the decline of organized labour in the U.S. has harmed not just workers' direct interests, but the economic sectors where unions previously thrived:
Want to make America great again and keep factories in the United States? Try strengthening labor unions.

That may seem counterintuitive, and certainly contrary to the direction the country has been moving in lately. But the reality is that when organized labor dug in its heels — as it did regularly in the United States until late in the 20th century — manufacturing companies thought twice about shutting a factory and transferring production to another country.
As union membership declines, labor has less leverage to intervene in the management of a corporation, or to galvanize the public into boycotting the products of manufacturers who put too many factories overseas while exporting less from the United States.

Strikes work when union membership is high enough to encourage the public to support the strikers, or at least feel a kinship with them. My parents, who lived comfortably on my father’s earnings as a textile broker in New York, never crossed a picket line thrown up by a labor union in pursuit of a favorable contract. They might not have agreed with a union’s demands, or even known what they were. But they respected a strike as an often-necessary tool in reaching a compromise acceptable to both sides.
The street demonstrations and marches so characteristic of today’s resistance can be immensely meaningful, but they don’t force the sort of permanent economic change that a union can achieve through a binding contract that emerges from a strike.

Or at least they haven’t yet. Perhaps in time new organizations will emerge — heirs to the old union movement — and one of their priorities will be to pressure manufacturers quite publicly to put more of their factories in the United States.
- Alex McKeen reports on a needed push for labour market indicators which recognize the reality of gig work and other forms of precarity. Julia Horowitz points out that WalMart represents a particularly egregious example of inequality between executives and workers. Chris Parsons offers a reminder that one of the greatest threats to free speech is employer suppression of workers' views - particularly where they involve asserting rights in the workplace. And UFCW points out one recent Alberta example of an employer's anti-union tactics leading to a remedial certification.

- Daniel Tencer examines the assumptions behind the sticker price of a basic income, and notes that the savings in social costs could make a secure income into a bargain for everybody.

- Marc Lee highlights the full cost-benefit analysis which shows a Trans Mountain expansion to be a poor deal for everybody but its corporate operators. And Tzeporah Berman writes about the importance of protest movements in ensuring that the people excluded from the Libs' decision-making are still able to influence the course of events.

- Finally, Brent Patterson reminds us of a few of Justin Trudeau's most important broken promises.

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