Saturday, January 28, 2012

Union membership slips further

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The percentage of workers represented by a union dipped slightly in 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday, as organized labor came under attack in states once considered union strongholds, including Wisconsin and Ohio.
In 2011, 11.8 percent of U.S. workers were represented by a union, the BLS said, down from 11.9 percent in 2010 and compared to a peak of 28.3 percent of the workforce in 1954.Strip out government workers, where 37 percent of the work force nationally is unionized, and union penetration of private industry was just 6.9 percent in 2011, unchanged from 2010.
The total number of union members actually grew slightly last year, to 14,764,000 from 14,715,000 in 2010. But the number of workers represented by organized labor remained steady while the overall number of workers employed in the economy grew, the BLS said.
Read it at Raw Story
Union membership slipped further as attacks came in 2011
by Reuters

On one hand, the left sees this as cruel owners and managers, who are very well compensated, cramming down workers to increase profit share and management compensation. 

On the other hand, the right cites the view of neoclassical economics that the primary reason for a "free market" economy not stabilizing at full employment is wage "rigidity." If wages were completely flexible and fluctuated with supply and demand, then prices would immediately adjust also, maintaining full employment as a steady state of the economy.

The contention is that unions and collective bargaining introduce wage rigidity. Therefore, weakening the bargaining power of labor through legislation that restricts collective bargaining is economically efficient.

In addition, the use of union funds for political purpose, creates a bias toward enshrining wage rigidity in law.

The response of the left to this argument: "What you smoking?"

As MMT shows wage-price rigidity is not the underlying cause of unemployment, nor would more flexibility result in a fix. Rather, the issue is shifts in the saving desire of the private sector and the external sector and the adjustment of the government fiscal balance to offset an increased saving desire of non-government.

So even if the argument of employers is sincere, it is erroneous.

The neoclassical argument is also a reason that conservatives oppose the MMT job guarantee. An ELR program essentially frees workers from the prospect of being forced to accept any job offer at the offered price without the ability to negotiate, since they need income for survival. This creates a buffer of unemployed essentially in bondage to the whims of the market.

Depriving workers of freedom of choice, expression, and association is antithetical to democracy. Restricting freedom for self-actualization is antithetical to the aspirations of the human spirit.

Defenders of free market capitalism counter, "TINA — there is no other way. Other ways have been tried and failed."

The rejoinder to that is, "Really? We are still in the age of imperialism and colonialism, and the imperial powers have done everything in their power for centuries now to ensure that no other way is tried and if one is tried, everything is done to undermine it."

So the dialectic goes on and is displayed in the gyrations of history.

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