Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Union Futures

A new short piece for TomPaine.com about new kinds of unions--and the death of the old.

"your dream job? If the answer is "yes," you are probably in a union. That's the finding of a nationwide marketing survey of over 37,000 workers released on January 25. The respondents most likely to report that they were in their dream jobs were police and firefighters (35 percent) followed by teachers (32 percent.)

By coincidence, on that same date, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report showing yet another severe drop in U.S. union membership—from a steady 12.5 percent in 2004 and 2005 to 12 percent in 2006. The remaining stronghold of unionism, with a 41.9 percent membership rate, is local government workers. As the BLS points out, "This group includes several heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers and firefighters."

I got an good email response:
"The future of unions is in open source. The old-guard unions are dead, but the principles of organizing are still valid and fit in well with our democratic traditions."

The writer started microunions.com to help people form small, independent unions. I talk about the open-source union idea in Generation Debt and specifically about Washtech in the Pacific Northwest area.


Anonymous said...

What is being overlooked is employee opposition to unionizing. Back in 1984 the AFL-CIO hired Harris Associates to do "A Study On The Outlook For Trade Union Organizing." Harris found that 65 percent of those who were not union members would vote against union representation. More importantly, the Harris study found that of those employees who had once been union represented but were presently working without union representation 72 percent said they would vote against unionizing.

Anonymous said...

Employee opposition to unions is usually because people think they can do better on their own.

It's worthwhile to consider an American city where there is a strong middle class and people are moving to in droves. Las Vegas is one of the strongest union towns around. The unions let the more experienced older waitresses serve the high rollers and get the best tips. And the unions make sure folks get paid more than subsistance wages...thats good for businesses as the workers spend their extra cash on local goods and services.

Support the Employee Free Choice Act to enforce the greatly abused National Labor Relations Act. Every city should be as economically vibrant as Las Vegas, but when we are forced compete with employees in the 3rd World we need labor rights to negotiate more than we would normally deserve on the global market.