Workers of the World...What?

On strike in Paris, Northern Ireland, Cincinnati...and Abu Dhabi

In July, the snazzy futuristic Burj Dubai gained the official title of the tallest building in the world. But more importantly, it’s currently the world’s tallest unfinished building. And this week it looked like the capstone might be significantly delayed when thousands of non-citizen workers went on strike for the first time in the United Arab Emirates, following up on a construction worker riot last March.

In the United Arab Emirates, striking is outlawed and labor union formation is forbidden. The workers sought a wage increase of between $140 and $270 a month (the average income in Abu Dhabi is $29,175), improved transport to construction sites, and better housing. The foreign workers are usually tied to a single commercial outfit, and live in housing blocks owned by the company or the government.

The strike was resolved with a carrot and a (big) stick, as Dubai started proceedings to deport 4,000 workers while simultaneously promising to crack down on employers guilty of health and safety violations. On the terms of the deal, workers promised to return to work today. (Some returned to work yesterday, and the government claimed the strike was officially over, but at least 2,000 workers at Sun Engineering & Contracting and Construction Co. remained off the job site as of this writing.)

Senior labor ministry official Humaid bin Deemas told the Arabic newspaper Emarat Al-Youm there would be a “deportation of 4,000 laborers who went on strike and committed acts of vandalism.” He added, "The laborers do not want to work and we will not force them to."

Which is fair enough. Since foreign workers frequently can’t stay in Dubai without employment, being deported is the inevitable consequence of firing. They’re mostly from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and most send money back to their families.

Actually, thanks to the booming Indian economy, many workers are ready to go home. In June, the government offered free one-way plane tickets to illegal workers hoping to leave. There were 280,000 applicants.

Still, it’s refreshing to see unions doing what they were designed for: aggregating workers and agitating for better conditions using a resource they actually own—their own labor. They’re bravely acting without the benefit of the special government protections that unions enjoy in the U.S. and Europe. In fact, they’re striking in spite of government aggression against them, and against significant odds.

The businesses in the UAE were not given the choice of dealing with strikers on their own terms, so the situation in Dubai was far from a pure labor market interaction. And business and government are so intertwined in the UAE that it may not have occurred to them to ask for it.

In fact, the strikers were mostly demanding that existing government decrees on worker welfare be enforced. Last fall, United Arab Emirates prime minister and the emir of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum issued requirements for improving the lot of foreign workers, which resulted in the shutting down of about 100 businesses that failed to comply in the last year.

But yesterday the chief of police in Dubai promised to do better. "The bosses of construction firms which fail to provide appropriate working conditions to their staff will be taken to court," General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim said in a statement.

"Dubai police will carry out inspection tours of workplaces to check whether businesses are respecting the instructions of Prime Minister and Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum."

This is just one in a series of recent stories about Dubai’s bumpy road toward Westerization and/or modernization. The United Arab Emirates boasts “the most modern legal system among the Arab countries,” which is a little like being the most talented Spice Girl (they’re back on tour soon, by the by). And you have to give them some credit for not killing the strikers, even if unionizing remains illegal for now.

It’s been a while since unions in the U.S. undertook anything so brave or impressive.

At the same time that workers in Dubai were striking, U.S. television writers were gearing up to strike over rights to DVDs and Internet downloads. This leaves the American people facing the tragic prospect of a season of 24 with only 9 hours.

In Ireland this week, teaching assistants for special ed classes struck, with special needs kids stuck at home while pay and the terms of teacher evaluations were squabbled over.

In celebration of November, the French planned a month of strikes to defend the right of people in certain professions to retire with a pension at 50 years old.

Meanwhile, 11,000 employees of the Kroger grocery store chain are teetering on the edge of a strike because of proposed pay increases—an increase of 10 cents and hour for baggers and 95 cents an hour for department heads—are too low. The union also said it was worried about the funding of pension plans. Kroger points out that it is experiencing intense competition from Wal-Mart, whose workers are not unionized.

Kroger advertised for scabs at $10 to $15 an hour, but it was reported that the striking workers expected solidarity from other unions, who wouldn’t cross the picket line to make deliveries, work, or shop.

If workers really wanted to show solidarity with their beleaguered brother and sister laborers, rather than hitting the Wal-Mart for their 6-pack tonight instead of the Kroger, they might look to the workers in Dubai, who are carrying on the tradition of the original union organizers rather more impressively than they are. Workers of the world unite, indeed.

Katherine Mangu-Ward is an associate editor for reason.

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  • Scop||

    "which is little like being the most talented Spice Girl "

    "an increase of 10 cents and hour for baggers and 95 cents and hour for department heads"

    Is it too much to ask that writers adhere to some simple rules of grammar and language? I think the author meant "is a little" and "an hour." It doesn't take that much time or effort, you know.

  • ||

    It's been a while since unions in the U.S. undertook anything so brave or impressive.

    [Followed by list of lame-o current first-world, western strikers and their kooky, silly, non-serious demands.]

    Because they no longer have to because of their earlier actions?

  • Scop||

    Otherwise, a worthy article. Thanks for the insights, and sorry to be such a language prick.

    I think the overall point is that the successes of labour movements in the "1st world" have made us rather too fat and happy. Perhaps we should appreciate our own lot more and stop bitching so much over whether we get 45 minutes for lunch, or a full hour....

  • dbust1||

    "If workers really wanted to show solidarity with their beleaguered brother and sister laborers...they might look to the workers in Dubai, who are carrying on the tradition of the original union organizers rather more impressively than they are."

    This statement would be valid if unions really did care about workers. They don't. They only care about union members who pay union dues.

  • R C Dean||

    They only care about union members who pay union dues.

    Er, not really. Union leadership actually only cares about union dues, pension and strike funds, and power politics both within and outside the union.

  • ||

    I think the overall point is that the successes of labour movements in the "1st world" have made us rather too fat and happy. Perhaps we should appreciate our own lot more and stop bitching so much over whether we get 45 minutes for lunch, or a full hour....

    The punishment for drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia is death. Should we stop bitching about the DEA and our own WoD becuase things are so much worse there?

  • Scop||

    R C Dean

    Yes, I agree. Like any political group, union leadership is most concerned with preserving its own power and position. No politically-minded person will ever say "I have accomplished all I aimed for, thus I retire." He will just invent new causes--new justifications for his position.

    Q: What does the management consultant do when he has solved the client's problem?
    A: Find (or create) a new problem to be solved.

  • Scop||

    Piet Mondrian's follower:

    No.
    (But the comparison is probably not valid.) When injustice is being done, we should oppose it. But there comes a time when we should accept that we have accomplished all we wanted, stop inventing new complaints, and try to assist others who are trying to do what we already did.

    Labour in the US and Europe today have it better than ever. If they have anything left to do, it is to try to improve the conditions of labourers elsewhere--NOT to kvetch about their own padded existence.

  • ||

    As long as we are nitpicking on language, it isn't "1st World". It is Old World,(Europe/Asia) New World (stuff that Columbus found), and Third World (developing countries. Unless you like "Turd World".

  • Scop||

    Tom:

    It was the Third World leader Jawaharlal Nehru who first coined the term Third World. He called the NATO bloc and the Warsaw Pact the 1st and 2nd worlds (never determined which was which), and the non-aligned nations the 3rd world. The fact that almost all the non-aligned nations were "developing" had nothing to do with it.

  • ||

    Labor unions job is to get all that they can for their workers without ruining their company/industries profitabilty.

    Many first world unions, the UAW in particular, ignores the italicized part of that statement. Many woes result from this short sightedness. Unions have a proper part in a free market society, but they need slapped down from time to time. Just like corporations.

  • Scop||

    J sub D:

    couldn't agree more. rent-seeking behaviour on the part of either should be shunned. when either get government favour, everyone suffers.

  • dbust1||

    If anyone is interested, check this out to see how a new tax is to be used to pay for labor union excess.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07298/828188-55.stm

  • ||

    Er, not really. Union leadership actually only cares about union dues, pension and strike funds, and power politics both within and outside the union.



    Actually, unions have become one of the most important conduits of money to the Democratic Party and that has become the most important activity for most union leaders today. This is in spite of the fact that the unions' rank-and-file are quite at odds with much of that pary's line.

    And although those "check-offs" are supposed to be voluntary, ask any of you union-member friends what they think would happen to them if they refused to pay them. Especially those in the building trades who rely on a hiring hall to send them out when job openings come up.

  • Scop||

    If trades unions were wiser, they would evolve into something like the AICPA: a professional certification and standard-setting group.

    As an accountant, I am not required (through closed-shop rules) to be a CPA. But, if I weren't, would you let me do your tax returns, or audit your financials? Of course not!

    Why can't, say, plumbers' unions do the same? Want to hire a plumber to do your bathroom? Hire anyone you want, at any price. BUT, if he's not a union member, the union will not certify his competence. Want to have ultimate recourse to the Plumbers' Union? Then hire someone who's passed all the PU tests--he'll cost you a bit more, and will demand certain conditions, but the PU will stand by his work.

    And, if you don't accept PU terms of employment, then...caveat emptor.

  • Episiarch||

    Many first world unions, the UAW in particular, ignores the italicized part of that statement.

    You'd think that the concept of "don't kill the cow that supplies your milk" would be obvious to the unions, but they probably view big corporations as 1) around forever, and 2) growing money on trees. Which is a common attitude, unfortunately. Plus, union management is interested in their power and profit now, not long term.

  • ||

    I'm in an uncomfortable position because I'm being forced to defend unions who oftentimes are complete dumbasses and as J sub D said are shortsided idiots (but, in UAW's defense, the Big 3 automakers agreed to the pension plans and started reneging when they saw what long term ramifications were going to be).

    My problem with the article is that compares the actions of a nascent labor movement with workers that have no organization or striking rights whatsoever to workers who have had these rights for 75 years. The author finds the latter group to be fighting lesser battles.

    Disingenuous is the word that leaps to my mind, but YMMV.

    It's like the argument that organizers for gay marriage in the US should halt their efforts until people are no longer being hung for being gay in places like Iran. "See, they've got it hard. You've got it comparatively easy, so shut your yaps."

  • Scop||

    Piet:

    "YMMV"?

    But, good point. Still, not entirely comparable, I think, but good point.

  • ||

    YMMV = your mileage may vary (i.e., you may see it a different way)

    BTW, thanks for getting the de stijl refernce right. Most folks assume it's a White Stripes thing.

  • ||

    de stijl,

    "Most folks assume it's a White Stripes thing."

    You just broke my heart. I wasn't even aware there was any connection to the White Stripes.

  • ||

    dbust1 | November 2, 2007, 12:47pm | #
    If anyone is interested, check this out to see how a new tax is to be used to pay for labor union excess.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07298/828188-55.stm


    dbust1,

    This is nothing new. As a former Pittsburgher (and native), I can vouch for the fact that Pittsburgh has been in self-destruct mode for quite some time.

  • ||

    De Stijl (album)

    Check out the front cover.

    Versus De Stijl (art movement)

    Okay, now I'm commenting on my handle which makes me feel so vain. You probably think this post is about me.

  • ||

    I hope Unions do not destroy Dubai's excellent boom. I know that it is a long ways away, but I really would hate to see union protection in the UAE.

  • Scop||

    "The Style"

    Mondrian is sublime--often imitated, never equalled. Admirable choice of handle. ("Handle" is what it's called, right?)

    But I must agree with the author to some degree. To use your last example: it is, I believe, entirely right and good for gay couples to demand certain rights; but, it is wrong for them to focus so much on their own comparatively minor problems in such a tolerant world as the US and Europe, that they fail to realize that they have it good by comparison to the majority of humanity.

    We must, I believe, appreciate what we have before we criticise it too much. Always demand better--"God save us from the man who is satisfied"--but let us be realistic. Labour has triumphed in the West (1st World...whatever) like it never imagined. Elsewhere, it has not been so successful. So, why kvetch so much about our lot--40 hour weeks? dear God!--when most people would kill for such "oppression."?

  • VM||

    destijl, Kohlrabi - the White Stripes? how absolutely fucking depressing. Add that shit to the U2, Dave Matthews, "Friends" bonfire a la Dhex.

    and destijl - clouds in your coffee or clowns in your coffee?

  • Scop||

    I have no idea what "white stripes" means.

  • Episiarch||

    Okay, now I'm commenting on my handle which makes me feel so vain. You probably think this post is about me.

    So should we call you Carly Simon now?

  • ||

    I'm pleased to see that K M-W feels that labor unions are capable of doing good in the world. I'm shocked, frankly, that's she's making fun of the Spice Girls. I wish I lived in France, so that I could retire and listen to them full time.

    Worst of all, she's enraged, enraged, damn it, that those wackos who run the union at Kroger are protesting because proposed increases aren't big enough! Listen, you peons! When management offers you a raise, you take it, damn it, you take it! It doesn't matter how little it is, you take it! Do what management does! A couple of years ago the head of the NY Stock Exchange was offered an increase, from $1 million a year to $20 million a year. Well, he wanted $30 million a year, but did he complain? No! He took it! Because management is always right! Except in a few small, backward foreign countries. (And not France, except that there management is bad because they aren't tough enough!)

  • ||

    Add that shit to the U2, Dave Matthews, "Friends" bonfire a la Dhex.

    Speaking of shit music, my secretary just put on Nickelback.

    I think it's time to duck out and find a bar that the satellite in my truck won't register...

  • LarryA||

    You'd think that the concept of "don't kill the cow that supplies your milk" would be obvious to the unions, but they probably view big corporations as 1) around forever, and 2) growing money on trees.

    I lived for a year among Pennsylvania "steelworkers." Steelworkers in the sense they still belonged to the union; the steel plants had gone out of business years before.

    They were incensed that the government hadn't reopened the plants that provided their jobs. "Who will buy the expensive and substandard steel you produce?" was met by blank stares.

  • dbust1||

    Taktix,

    I thought that there was something strange about you.

    Pittsburgh has been in decline since BEFORE the mills closed. But this is just the latest egregious money grubbing taxation effort. It just galls me how most denizens of the 'burgh are still so pro-union.

  • Scop||

    Again, to use the accountant example:

    The people who most quickly distanced themselves from A-A after the Enron non-scandal were accountants--even though A-A did NOTHING wrong nor illegal.

    When professional "unions" are not protected by coercive law--as most trades unions and the ABA are--they tend to promote good practices, and shun those who even appear to exercise bad judgment.

    Sadly, thanks to government subservience (the plague of "democracy"), almost all trades unions in the US and Europe promote gross incompetence, overpay, and unfathomable non-productivity.

    Here's hoping that the nascent unions in the evil Dubai craphole become something better.

  • ||

    Pittsburgh has been in decline since BEFORE the mills closed. But this is just the latest egregious money grubbing taxation effort. It just galls me how most denizens of the 'burgh are still so pro-union.

    Dtroit here. Want to trade horror stories?

  • ||

    Detroit, dammit.

  • ||

    "Who will buy the expensive and substandard steel you produce?" was met by blank stares.

    I'm surprised this wasn't met with a swift kick in the groin. This is the same union that to this day tows foreign cars from their parking lots.

    dbust1,

    I agree the city has been in decline, but they have done absolutely nothing to turn it around. In fact, they have all the hallmarks of government ineptitude:

    Failing to realize that taxes stifle growth.
    Placating unions despite their lack of membership.
    A light-rail system that only services the areas of town that don't need it.
    Etc...

    Anyway, this stupid drink tax is going to squash the only thing Western Pa. has left, namely drinking to forget that the area is going down the tubes.

  • ||

    ...or should I say, "Dat' dere' drinkin' tax ain't doin' nothin' but puttin' the kebash on what Picksburgh has left n 'at, like gettin' an Arn ta forget dat Picksburgh is goin dawn da tubes n 'at.

  • ||

    LarryA:

    It's a bad idea to talk to unemployed PA steelworkers. Some of their drunkenness, anger, racism, fatness, and horrible accents might rub off onto you. Fucking yinzer trash, the lot of them.

  • ||

    A report from the workers' paradise that is Dubai.

    clouds in your coffee or clowns in your coffee?

    Not sure. But I've looked at clouds from both sides now.

    So should we call you Carly Simon now?

    Maybe Judy Collins would be more appropriate (see above)

    Detroit, dammit.

    So now we're back to the White Stripes again.




  • ||

    Taktix: good yinzerese. It's missin sumpin, dough...maybe y'otta sey sumpin abaht jumbew er deh Sqwerhyl Tunnels er dat tahm da beer distributer wuz tryin a cherge twenny dowers fer a case a Arncity.

    I feel like I need a shower now. God, I spent way too many years of my live in Picksberg.

  • ||

    I had to look up yinzer and now that I know what it means, I'm curious about the etymology. Anyone know?

  • ||

    Why the hatin' on the White Stripes? Answers involving the words "because they suck" or any variants will not be accepted.

  • ||

    Warty,

    I was back up for a wedding a few weeks ago (after 1.5 years out) and I swear, the same 5 dumbass no-news stories when I left were on the front page of the Post Gazette.

    The Trib is still a Scaife propaganda arm. Damn, I'm glad they laid me off...

  • dbust1||

    Sadly Yinzerese looks no better than it sounds.

  • ||

    de stijl,

    Yinzer is a term, for some one in Pittsburgh. In the local dialect, "yinz" is the equivalent to the southern "y'all"

  • ||

    de stijl:

    You ones -> y'uns ->yinz. Roughly equivalent to y'all in more civilized regions.

  • dbust1||

    de stijl,

    As far as anyone knows (and a professor actually researched it) Yinzer is a conglomeration of English, Scotch-Irish and German. But I personally think it's a means of justifying poor education and illiteracy.

  • ||

    Katherine, kindly enumerate all those "special protections" for labour unions in the US when, after going through all the hoops necessary for certification, it's members can be effectively fired ("permanently replaced") for going out on a legal strike. I'm just waiting for the day Reason supports the importation of replacement drugs from other countries for people tired of paying the high and unregulated monopoly pricing American consumers suffer from. But I won't be holding my breath.

  • ||

    I'm just waiting for the day Reason supports the importation of replacement drugs from other countries for people tired of paying the high and unregulated monopoly pricing American consumers suffer from.

    I thought Reason did support that.

    Also, drug companies are hardly unregulated. You'd be hard pressed to find a more regulated industry. But it's a clusterfuck because of too little regulation, correct?

  • ||

    But it's a clusterfuck because of too little regulation, correct?

    Of course. The statist's credo is either "It doesn't work because we had too little government control". Or the ever popular, "It was a great idea, just poorly implemented".

    Take your pick.

  • ||

    Speaking of shit music, my secretary just put on Nickelback.

    Ah, good 'ol Nickleback. The .38 Special of the 21st century.

  • ||

    Two points Warty. First, Reason has editorialized against the importation of pharmacueticals arguing that it amounts to importation of other countries price controls as well. It's a negation of the traditional "willing buyer/willing seller" paradigm that Reason usually espouses, perhaps because Big Pharma is also a big contributor to the Foundation. Second, while there are certainly regulatory hurdles a new drug must go through before it's approved, price control when it does make it to market isn't among them, except to the extent the government can negotiate better prices for its programs such as veterans and Medicaid.

  • Z||

    Katherine's article was absolute crap. I'm accustomed to running into ideas i don't agree with on this site - but she might as well be rush limbaugh in this article. No ideas - just hot air and mindless assertions of her biases. usually I'm at least challenged by the ideas here instead of having my intelligence insulted by a petulant temper tantrum.

    maybe someone here that hates unions could comment on the fact that as unions have rapidly declined in this country over the last 30 years the income disparity in america has rapidly widened and the middle class is being squeezed out of existence.

    Or maybe someone wants to tell us why a 10 cents an hour raise is so damn glorious - so they can buy one extra gallon of gas after a 40 hour work week?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Z - I don't hate unions per se, but I think the main point of Katherine's article was just how irrelevant they've become in most of the Western world. It's telling that they typically only remain in dying or troubled industries.

    Income disparity has rapidly widened in large part because the wealthy are getting much wealthier. The other part of that equation quoted by those who distrust free markets isn't true. The poor are getting wealthier, too - just not as fast, hence the growing gap.

    Obviously, since you disagree with that, you will disagree with the usefulness of unions.

  • ||

    I know it's probably a bit too late to matter and is probably mostly beside the point, but KMW is way sloppy with the UAE angle of the article. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are quite different in lots of important ways related to economy and government.

    The average income number in Abu Dhabi, for example, shouldn't be applied to an argument about Dubai, where living expenses in some cases are double or more vs. the capital. It simply doesn't apply at all.

    Also, to the best of my knowledge, there were no worker strikes in Abu Dhabi (where there is still a few mega-project construction sites and a similar massive reliance on imported subcontinentals) in the last two weeks when I was there.

    Incidentally, there was no mention of the strikes in the newspapers or on radio (even English-language) until after they were "settled" and even then, the story was buried in at least one of the major papers. As relatively free as the press and radio are there, there was clearly a major gag order in place.

    It was kind of interesting to hear about it via CNN and the BBC before Gulf News, Khaleej Times, Radio 2 and Channel 4.

  • ||

    A snarky article.

  • ||

    If the liberals were right, every type of job would be unionized. Immagine how the US economy would look?

    If you are a liberal or a statist, you might immagine a glorious nation where healthcare is free, and everyone is happy. If you live in reality you immagine the US looking like Western Europe, where Socialism has wrecked the economic culture.

  • Brian||

    If I were Kroger, I'd just go all Randian and close up shop. The unions need to realize that at a certain point they can demand too much. They expect to be paid as much as they want, and that those increases won't adversely affect their employer? Well, rather than go bankrupt and be put out of business by the union, I would liquidate, take my profit and walk away.

  • ||

    Union leadership may care more about their own power and pay more than that of their members, but they certainly care more about workers than the owners or management.

    Realizing that union membership in the U.S. is extremely low at this time, I wouldn't be too quick about reporting their demise. Even in bright red Idaho, people from all sorts of employment situations are calling for the repeal of our deceptively named 'Right to Work' laws.

    The previous boom in union membership after WWII coincided with, and helped bring about, a huge increase in the middle class in America and a leveling of wage disparity. Of course this came at a cost to the extemely wealthy, who have since fought a continual battle to destroy unions and the gains that had been made for the working class. Many people are beginning to recognize the losses and are working to organize. As a former member of the Retail Clerks International, Steelworkers, Teamsters, National Education Association, and National Association of Elementary School Principals I applaud these efforts and wish them great success.

  • VM||

    I think you're overstating the "wrecked" economies of western europe, a bit. The tradeoffs they face and the various entrenched problems they have are pretty bad. But the trade offs we face and the various entrenched problems we have are pretty bad.

    No question that I feel there is better upside hier in the US, but the nearly hysterical tones about WESTERN EUROPE (or "socialized medicine" or "minimum wage") really are exaggerated.

  • Brian Ewart||

    rm2muv: The Unions themselves aren't inherently evil. We have just given them too much power, and often they expect too much.

    For example, the closed shop, is still alive and well. There are places where you are FORCED to join the union -- or at least pay those dues, no matter how little the union actually does for you... A high school kid gains NOTHING from the union dues he pays while working at the supermarket, and if the union goes on strike... Despite this, in order to be employed, he has to agree to pay Union dues.

    THAT isn't right. Unions should be voluntary. The closed shop is forced labor under terms that the employee does not necessarily assent to.

    My other complaint is that Unions would rather get their way and put an "evil corporation" out of business, than take a lower pay raise and have their job for a while. Someone needs to insert common sense into that process.

  • ||

    It's been a while since unions in the U.S. undertook anything so brave or impressive.,/i>

    That's because they won, decades ago, despite the best efforts of people like you.

    Hope you're enjoying your weekend.

  • ||

    It's good thing those manufacturing areas in the South remained non-union, so that now they don't have to worry about their manufacturing jobs leaving, like they did in the unionized north.

    Oh, wait...

  • ||

    If the liberals were right, every type of job would be unionized. Immagine how the US economy would look?

    The period of greatest unionization in the American economy - the 1950s and 60s - was also the period when America became the pre-eminet economic superpower in the world.

    And if unions don't actually care about workers, why have they spent the last century as the strongest agitators for the minimum wage and workplace-protection policies that apply to all workers, whether unionized or not?

  • ||

    Brian,

    "Closed shops" exist because employers sign contracts with their workers regarding hiring practices.

    You would forbid them from entering into such a contract?

  • ||

    "The period of greatest unionization in the American economy - the 1950s and 60s - was also the period when America became the pre-eminet economic superpower in the world."

    Correlations and causes - best not to confuse them. It's quite likely that the U.S. became the economic superpower because of all the other factors that were actually contributing to a productive economy. The U.S. made this kind of progress because the engine was a superior model, far superior to the other models with heavier unionization, regulations, and other dinks. So, the U.S. made the progress they did in spite of a few dinks in the engine.

    "And if unions don't actually care about workers, why have they spent the last century as the strongest agitators for the minimum wage and workplace-protection policies that apply to all workers, whether unionized or not?"

    The minimum wage protects workers from competition from non-union workers who would work for less and be less likely to cough up union dues.

  • JasonL||

    ""Closed shops" exist because employers sign contracts with their workers regarding hiring practices.

    You would forbid them from entering into such a contract?"

    You can say this with a straight face? A "no union" policy is illegal, which kind of distorts this particular contract, no?

  • JasonL||

    This recent bit of negotiations by the UAW is the first actually interesting and helpful act I've seen big labor undertake in my lifetime. It is the first time I have ever seen an acknowdlegement of reality.

    American labor unions fail their membership by making them less productive at higher cost than either foreign labor or machines. The insistence of the American labor movement that wages are arbitrary and cradle to grave obligations are reasonable has killed the desire for unionized labor. They offer nothing but increased costs.

    Imagine an alternate world in which labor was organized to actually enhance its value in the marketplace.

  • ||

    gap,

    Correlations and causes - best not to confuse them.

    In case it wasn't clear, I wasn't making an argument about causation. I was refuting one.

    Some people claim that stronger unions and more workers' rights will tank the economy. America's economic history doesn't seem to bear this theory out.

    JasonL,

    There is not a single state, city, or county in America were it is illegal to hire non-union labor.

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  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

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