Trade Unions

TRADE UNIONS….The Bush administration, in the latest skirmish in its continuing war against labor unions, is dredging up long dormant rules to force unions to file detailed financial statements in order to demonstrate ?accountability and transparency.? Needless to say, accountability and transparency are not normally issues this administration pays a lot of attention to, and one might reasonably suspect that harassment is more the order of the day here than accountability. Henry Farrell comments:

This is, simply put, a battle that the left can?t afford to lose. Trade unions are one of the most vital constituencies of the Democratic party. These purported reforms have the sole purpose and intent of making it more difficult for trade unions to take political positions that don?t reflect the most narrow possible definition of the interests of their members. If blogs can organize a boycott against Sinclair Communications, and can play an important role in pushing back against efforts to destroy Social Security, then they can certainly do something to help fight against this. It?s an important battle; perhaps, in the long run, the most important battle of the next two years.

Even if liberals were in power in Washington, there are limits to what can ? and should ? be accomplished by congressional regulation of corporations. Issues like skyrocketing CEO pay, increasing income inequality, increasing income instability, and declining healthcare provisions can only be fully addressed by a vibrant trade union movement that has the power to negotiate on an equal footing with large corporations.

Republicans and their corporate bosses know this perfectly well, and it’s a lesson that liberals ought to relearn as well. A surprising number of liberals disdain unions as dinosaur relics of an old economy, not realizing that a revitalized and modernized labor movement is probably an indispensible precursor to the kinds of economic policies most of us would like to see.

In other words, Henry is right.

Support the Washington Monthly and get a FREE subscription