The Matt Welch/Harold Meyerson Debate About Unions


Is available for your listening enjoyment here:

Let's take this opportunity to swing through some labor-related headlines, shall we? Many of them were harvested from the valuable Pension Tsunami website, and all come from the past week:

Under thy thumb

Politicians Come and Go, But Public Employees Rule 

Obama Draws Fire for Appointing SEIU's Stern to Deficit Panel

Failed Banks May Get Pension-Fund Backing as FDIC Seeks Cash

Procuring the Union Agenda: A White House Plan Would Be the Davis-Bacon Act on Steroids

Public Pensions Are Adding Risk to Raise Returns

Public Pension IOUs Total Nearly $6K per Chicagoan, Study Says

SEIU to Focus on California Races

AFL-CIO Pledges All-out Backing for Democrats in 2010 Elections

Labor On Dems Who Block Health Reform: We'll 'Take Them Out'

My favorite part of yesterday's discussion: The question of why haven't unions done a better job communicating the good work they do?

NEXT: Virginia Postrel on Health Care Reform & The Politics of Glamour

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  1. My favorite part of yesterday’s discussion: The question of why haven’t unions done a better job communicating the good work they do?

    Like defending cops who pull guns at snowball fights. Who couldn’t get behind that?

    1. I fail to see the connection.

      1. I’m not surprised.

      2. Tulp, babe, I think you’re trying to fail to see the connection.

        1. No one ever tries to fail; they just fail to try.

  2. If you have not seen the BBC show “Yes, Minister”, see it as soon as possible.

  3. AFL-CIO Pledges All-out Backing for Democrats in 2010 Elections

    And in other surprising news, the Pope is Catholic, Sean Penn has a man crush on Hugo Chavez, and Stalin was a Marxist…

  4. As a libertarian, I have no issue with unions per se; indeed, they are covered under the right of association. What I don’t like are unions that get cozy with the government and the boss. When unions get cozy with government, they become a special interest group. When they get cozy with the boss, they cease to act in the interest of their members.

    1. And you have the problem of compulsorily membership…

    2. In the latter case, their members are free to find employment elsewhere. Not so with the public sector monopoly.

    3. Unions as mere associations of like-minded individuals are surely unobjectionable.

      Unfortunately, that isn’t what unions are in this country, not any more.

      You have compulsory membership in many states. You have mandatory bargaining and imposed contracts. You have, of course, the whole web of relationships between unions and politicians for purposes of rent-seeking.

      So, I would say unions are a healthy exercise of the right of association the way the Cosa Nostra is.

      1. Shouldn’t the only bitch you have be with the compulsory bargaining? I mean, if, after free bargaining, an employer and a union agreed on a contract that only union members would be hired by the employer you would have no problem with that, right?

        1. But that wouldn’t be compulsory membership, MNG. By compulsory, I mean compelled by the state.

          Of course I think that employers should be free to hire whoever they want, whether that means they hire all union (for however long they are in business) or they have an absolute ban on anyone who was ever associated with a union in any way.

          1. “By compulsory, I mean compelled by the state.”

            I’m not sure what you mean by that, can you explain? I know the NLRA compels employers to bargain with unions after certain requirements are met by the union, and I know that about half of the states allow unions to bargain for “union shop” contracts where all employees must join the union or pay fees, but when does the state actually force a person to join a union? Heck, even in “union shop” states the person is always free to seek employment elsewhere rather than joining any union at any particular workplace…

          2. Good point, MNG. The absence of a right-to-work law merely allows “closed shop” agreements to be enforced, but doesn’t make them mandatory.

    4. Industry wide unions tend to reveal a double standard in our economy, however — if all the executives or owners in an industry got together and “collectively bargained”, they’d go to jail.

  5. Unions are a joke. ALl they do is suck the life blood out of companies.


  6. I support Unions for the same reasons, Tristan stated but also I think civil service jobs or any government job should not be unionized. Since government jobs arent there for profit.

  7. Weird. Harold Meyerson actually came across as reasonably intelligent in that interview. Based on his Washington Post editorials I’ve been operating on the assumption that he is incredibly stupid, if not borderline retarded.

    1. He doesn’t have to contend with an alternative view being expressed while he’s writing an editorial. If Paul Krugman were discussing economics with an Austrian economist on the radio, you can bet he’d sound a lot more sane than he does when he’s screaming from his unopposed bully pulpit in the NYT.

  8. My favorite part of yesterday’s discussion: The question of why haven’t unions done a better job communicating the good work they do?

    Clearly they’re using the same PR firm that’s helping Das President promote healthcare. Appears they need a good talking to about their performance, because, obviously, it’s the failure to “get out the good news” in both cases that’s the issue.

    1. You’re a liar

  9. No, you are

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