September 23, 2005
Clinton's Pro-Labor Politics
Mickey Kaus has decided to, in his description, play Bill Clinton in bashing labor unions as compared to paleoliberals like Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias (Matt knows how funny I find that characterization of him :) who are defending Davis-Bacon wage standards.
Except that Kaus is either disingenuous or an idiot, since Clinton enacted some decidely pro-labor policies. Yes, he supported NAFTA, but on the issue of government contracts, Clinton passed a series of policies to make sure federal contracts would go to unionized companies, including
Labor and Clinton had some serious disagreements, as noted on trade especially, but even there Clinton came around to supporting strong labor standards, as in the Jordan free trade agreement and at the 1989 WTO trade summit.
And that's because he understood, unlike Kaus, that no progressive policy is possible without workers having their own voice at work. The true insanity of Kaus's position is captured in this quote of his:
In the real world, if we want worker protections, unions are an increasingly obsolete way of delivering them; it's generally better to guarantee worker safety through OSHA, for example, than unionsGo read Jordan Barab's blog, Confined Space, where, day after day, he documents the ongoing failure of OSHA to protect worker safety and health. Seriously, go scroll down Jordan's blog and see if you can stop giggling uncontrollably at Kaus's idiocy.
The reality is that without a union in a workplace, workers are afraid to enforce their rights for fear of losing their jobs. It is a delusion of liberals that the government by itself can overcome the autocratic power of employers over their employees. Workers need a voice IN THE WORKPLACE to enforce their rights, which is why real progressives support labor rights.
Posted by Nathan at September 23, 2005 08:58 AM