LECTURE 25 UNIONS & DEMOCRACY December 6, 2012

LECTURE 25 UNIONS & DEMOCRACY December 6, 2012

LECTURE 25 UNIONS & DEMOCRACY December 6, 2012 I. The Problem Democracy: Rule by the people = the will of the people translated into the public purposes of the state. The problem: How to form a genuine will of the people and how to translate it into public policy? The obstacle: We live in a highly atomized society of separate, competing individuals pursuing their individual interests, facing numerous free rider problems. The solution: The formation of various kinds of grass roots

organizations that are directly integrated into peoples ordinary lives and concerns and which help build solidarities and collective capacity. Examples: Unions; Community-based civic associations THREE SPHERES OF SOCIAL LIFE The economy: the sphere in which we produce and buy things The State: the sphere in which we govern our collective affairs

Civil Society: the sphere in which we get together voluntarily in organizations to pursue common purposes II. What Are Labor Unions? 1. Conventional view: Labor unions are a special interest organization that looks out for the narrow economic interests of their members at the expense of everyone else.

Some people think that unions mainly benefit union leaders. The decline in unions is explained as reflecting the individualistic, competitive preferences of most Americans. II. What Are Labor Unions? 2. Alternative View: unions help create more equal power: (1). Economic Power: Workers are individually much less powerful than employers: they need a job more than the employer needs them. Unions help equalize their relative power.

Empirical effect: unionized workers earn higher wages than non-unionized workers in the same occupations. Impact of Unions on low-wage workers (2000) Low-wage Average wage Yearly earnings occupation Union Nonunion Union Nonunion % Income difference difference Cashier $10.04

$7.35 $20,883 $15,288 37% $5,595 Janitors $12.12 $8.69

$25,210 $18,075 39% $7,134 Farm workers $10.51 $7.71

$21,861 $16,037 36% $5824 Poverty level for family of four (2000) hourly earnings: annual income: $8.40 (assuming full time work) $17,472 II. What Are Labor Unions?

2. Alternative View: unions help create more equal power: (2). Political Power: The labor movement is one of the important ways that individuals can be brought into politics through two processes: Organic Solidarities: Unions help build solidarities among people in one important setting of their lives workplaces and get people involved in collective decisions. Organizational capacity. Unions help build a bridge between individuals and electoral politics. They make it easier for people to work in campaigns and thus counteract the role of money in elections. III. Historical Development of Labor Movement 1. Historic hostility to unions

Conflict of two values: (1) Freedom of association, and (2) Freedom of voluntary exchange in a market. Until well into the 20th century Unions were seen as coercive restrictions of voluntary contracts. Laws which restrict union activities are defended under the banner of the right to work. 2. The Problem: vulnerability of organizers & members For a union to be strong it needs a high proportion of workers in a firm to be members: there is strength in numbers. All unions begin as weak organizations. When a union is weak, individuals are extremely vulnerable to reprisal from employers from joining a union. This makes it very hard for a union to grow slowly and incrementally unless there are legal protections enforced by the state.

A central problem in any labor movement is therefore creating a favorable legal framework for union organizing. 3. Breakthrough: the New Deal Reforms, mid-late 1930s The Wagner Act was the most important Labor law reform in the1930s. Key provisions: National Labor Relations Board established to oversee rules protections of workers against being fired for trying to form a union or joining a union protections against being fired for going on strike fair rules for union organizers to try to form a union and clear procedures for certifying a legitimate union requirement that employers bargain in good faith when there is a union 4. Basic process by which a union gets formed

Organizers try to get employees to sign cards saying that they want a union. When a majority of employees have signed these organizing cards, then a vote is taken to certify the union as a collective bargaining unit. After a union has been certified, employers have to meet with them and engage in what is called good faith bargaining This bargaining ideally culminates in a contract an agreement between the union and the employers. The contract is then voted on by union members. If no contract is bargained, then the union can go on strike to put pressure on the employer. During the strike an employer can hire replacements which unions called scabs to work instead of the striking workers. Employers are not allowed to fire workers while on strike, but they also are not prevented from replacing them with permanent replacements. One of the conditions of settlement of successful strikes is nearly always getting rid of the replacement workers.

Unionization Rates 1890-2008 Era of hostile rules to union formation Supportive rules Erosion of supportive rules and increasing anti-union offensive 5. Erosion of unions after WWII Taft-Hartley amendments to the Wagner Act significantly weaken union protections Right to Work laws in many states prevent automatic union membership for workers in unionized firms increasingly lax enforcement of labor laws

Increasingly sophisticated (and sometimes ruthless) strategies of employers to undermine unions 6. Contemporary Strategies of Employers to undermine unions Mandatory captive audience meetings in which anti-union propaganda is presented Widespread hiring of professional anti-union consultants Threats: to move businesses, to call in INS against immigrant workers Illegal firing and discrimination against workers who sign union cards. Strategic use of the expense and time workers face of taking employers to court for illegal firing Reliance on lax enforcement of labor laws by government authorities Even after union victories, use of continual, aggressive anti-union activity to block contacts. Less than half of unions who win certification manage to negotiate a contract.

Consequences for Democracy of decline of unions Absence of a coherent associational basis for a working class electorate Reduced pressures on the Democratic Party to focus on working class interests: the Democratic Party also becomes largely responsive to needs of big corporations Reduced counterweight to role of money in shaping political agendas: two sources of power in a democracy willingness to pay and willingness to act. Unions used to be a central basis for the latter.

Recently Viewed Presentations

  • Science Process Skills - Derry Township School District

    Science Process Skills - Derry Township School District

    Science Process Skills Observation Noting the properties of objects and situations using the five senses… Seeing Hearing Touching Smelling Tasting Classifying Relating objects and events according to their attributes which may involve classifying…


    ADULT EDUCATION AND TRAINING (AET) AND . TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING (TVET)SECTORS. Joint Meeting of the Select Committee on Education and Recreation, Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training and Portfolio Committee on Basic Education. OVERVIEW OF SECTOR...
  • Pressure Drop Basics & Valve Sizing What is

    Pressure Drop Basics & Valve Sizing What is

    Pressure Drop Basics & Valve Sizing What is Pressure Drop? What Pressure Drop is Not? What is Pressure Drop? What is Pressure Drop? Pressure Drop Table Why is Pressure Drop Important? What Factors Determine Pressure Drop? What is the Relationship...
  • Introduction to Graph Transformation - Uppsala University

    Introduction to Graph Transformation - Uppsala University

    PROGRES (PROgrammed Graph Rewriting Systems) Graphical/textual language to specify graph transformations Graph rewrite rules with complex and negative conditions Embedded in programming notation for OO data base transactions Cross compilation in Modula 2, C and Java AGG (The Attributed Graph...
  • Open Access Matters: Increasing Reading Rates and Responses

    Open Access Matters: Increasing Reading Rates and Responses

    Ebsco - provided by my campus. c. b. a. 2007-04-23 19:28:14. [email protected] Access to the best journals costs too much. Low fee subscriptions to the closest university systems would probably be optimal. d. MA. 2007-04-24 03:52:59. [email protected] Denver....
  • CACA-Lectures


    Circuit analysis. Number of add32 circuits has been reduced from 31 to one, though some registers and muxes have been added. The longest combinational path has been reduced from 62 FAs to to one add32 plus a few muxes
  • VISION STATEMENT - az801952.vo.msecnd.net

    VISION STATEMENT - az801952.vo.msecnd.net

    Mankuroane technical is a school situated in a rural area of Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati district and in greater Taung Area Office, with 527 learners (grade 8 -12), functioning in three departments: technical, mathematics and sciences.
  • PANATHENAEA - Purdue University

    PANATHENAEA - Purdue University

    Common Ionian festival. Inauspicious (apophras) day declared.Temple of Athena closed and cordoned. Sheep sacrifices to Athena and Aglauros. Wooden image (xoanon) of Athena Polias stripped of crown, robe (peplos), and jewelry, then wrapped in cloth.Peplos taken to be washed.. Daytime...