Labor unions organize to get the best possible deal — or what they think of as the best possible deal — for their workers. This usually pits them against managers who want to get the best possible deal — or what they see as the best possible deal — for their institution. Unions are not just about challenging the “might and greed” of private-sector CEOs, but about recognizing the different incentives faced by managers and workers, and about correcting the tremendous power imbalance between those who can be fired for asking too many questions or demanding a different bargain and those who get to do the firing and would prefer a more submissive workforce and a status quo that they’ve created and defined……
If private-sector unions negotiate higher wages that lead to higher corporate costs, those costs are passed on to the consumer. If public unions negotiate higher wages that lead to higher taxes, those taxes are paid for by the taxpayer. If public or private unions negotiate work rules that stifle innovation or impede good service, the public bears the brunt of that, too.
Without getting into too much of a rant, the war against unions in America (particularly public sector unions) is an absolute tragedy, defined starkly by the recent protests in Wisconsin.Capitalism is an ideology of individualism that works to isolate people and make them believe they are on their own. Collective bargaining power flies in the face of ‘market purity’, and those with capital will always find ways to undermine it. Media institutions owned by the rich will almost always work in their interest – hence the hostility towards unions. Thankfully there are still rational people like Ezra Klein pointing out the inconsistencies in anti union ideology, but it is an uphill battle to maintain sanity in a media system motivated almost exclusively by profit.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.