Jagdish Bhagwati Argues That Free Trade and Labor Law Reform Are Two Great Tastes That Go Great Together


Precisely paralleling an argument I had yesterday with a colleague, Jagdash Bagwati makes the case for seeing a linkage between support for free trade and support for the Employee Free Choice Act.

Bagwati’s basic point is that among the competing visions for how you could have a more egalitarian economy is, on the one hand, the idea that we need to sharply restrict imports. On the other hand, though, there’s the idea that we could remain open to trade and let the economy undergo its structural shifts while bringing more widespread unionization to the service sector. It’s not a fact handed down from god that the unionized firms are mostly in the manufacturing sector, it’s just that manufacturing was big during the period of time when U.S. labor law was friendly to union organizing. EFCA could create a new era of organizing-friendly labor law, and an opportunity to shift to an economy that features more decent jobs in the sectors that aren’t import-competing.