Monday, February 21, 2011

Kevin Drum on why we need unions

Of course unions have pathologies. Every big human institution does. And anyone who thinks they're on the wrong side of an issue should fight it out with them. But unions are also the only large-scale movement left in America that persistently acts as a countervailing power against corporate power. They're the only large-scale movement left that persistently acts in the economic interests of the middle class.

So sure: go ahead and fight the teachers unions on charter schools. Go ahead and insist that public sector unions in Wisconsin need to take pay and benefit cuts if that's what you believe. Go ahead and rail against Davis-Bacon. It's a free country.

But the decline of unions over the past few decades has left corporations and the rich with essentially no powerful opposition. No matter what doubts you might have about unions and their role in the economy, never forget that destroying them destroys the only real organized check on the power of the business community in America. If the last 30 years haven't made that clear, I don't know what will.


Rick Henderson said...

What makes no sense about Drum's argument is that he doesn't identify the adversary of public employee unions. Who are (to use a term you've deployed elsewhere) the plutocrats? Who is THE MAN who must be resisted?

The taxpaying parents who cover your salaries? The elected school board (whose members probably work for a small per diem or expenses, if that)? The superintendent?

The labor-vs.-management dichotomy doesn't add up. Unless I'm missing something.

Rick Henderson said...

I used teachers as one example, but firefighters, cops, forest rangers, etc., all would count, too.