Union Power

Kevin Drum says:

If, right now, you were to offer corporations and the rich a choice between (a) passage of EFCA or (b) a return to Clinton-era tax rates on high incomes, they wouldn’t even blink. If you put a gun to their head and they had to choose between one or the other, they’d pay the higher taxes without a peep. That’s because, on the level of raw power, they know how the world works.

That’s definitely true. But in large part that’s because if you allowed more unionization in exchange for some tax cuts, the stronger unions would just turn around in the future and create a political dynamic that’s friendly to tax hikes. Which if you ask me would be great. But I think labor-friendly writers sometimes don’t do the best possible job of distinguishing between unions qua social and political institutions and collective bargaining as a labor market institution. Something like EFCA is the only way to revive collective bargaining as a major force in private sector labor markets. But I don’t think it’s correct to see EFCA –> union density as the only conceivable form of politically influential mass membership organization. Unfortunately for progressives the best example I’ve got of a non-union politically influential mass membership organization is the NRA, but that just goes to show that you can, in fact, get a lot done if you’ve actually got a bunch of people who really care deeply about something.