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September 15, 2003

A Bit Better- TAPPED on Unions

This is a bit better by TAPPED, in that they agree unions are wonderful: they're just irrelevant. A step forward from their original post, but still missing the boat.

We live in a nonunion country. That is the reality for 86.8 percent of people with jobs in America. Many, though certainly not all, of these people experience the workplace like this: No unions. No job protections. Employed at will. No pensions.
A semblance of truth there, although I wish TAPPED could grapple with the points I made in how unions increase wages for non-union workers (check bottom of post), where it's worth remembering that ALL workers benefit from the THREAT of unions organizing in non-union workplaces. As the post notes, in more unionized sectors, even the non-union companies pay the union wage-- so don't throw around "86.8% non-union" as if those folks aren't benefitting from union organizing-- and not just the political legislation unions help pass.

TAPPED does touch on the issue of whether non-union workers may be jealous of union workers:

Is it possible that the benefits of unionization, when coupled with the small portion of the workforce that remains unionized, now makes union workers seem not like the proletariat, but like elite workers within their sectors?
Except a lot of the folks being organized today in unions are home health care workers, janitors, laundry workers, hotel maids-- hardly the labor elite.

But when liberal friends of labor can't even bring themselves to explain how non-union workers benefit from having unions out there organizing, it's hardly surprising that non-union workers can't think of the benefits themselves.

That's what pissed me off about TAPPED's original post-- unions face daily anti-union barrages and it would be nice if their intellectual allies could argue on their behalf citing more than a history book.

More workers in this country have unions than have government-mandated health care, yet no one thinks that's a reason to stop advocating for the virtues of universal health care.

Yet TAPPED argues basically, unions are all very well for those who have them, but irrelevant to the rest. As they say in the last two lines of the post:

And it's important and vital for the candidates to vie for the approval of the AFL-CIO and its constituent unions. But it would also be nice if the candidates directly addressed the large number of Americans who feel -- correctly or not -- that they've got no one on their side, and did so in terms that made such people feel heard.
TAPPED still can't bring itself to agree that advocating for greater union rights-- rights that will help NON-UNION WORKERS get those union benefits -- IS addressing the needs of those non-union workers.

Yes, a lot of individuals are ignorant of the benefits of unions. But they'd be less ignorant if supposed allies like TAPPED wouldn't accuse candidates of pandering for promoting unionization as a solution to the lack of rights in the workplace.

This is literally the first election in my lifetime when candidates have articulated detailed, systematic plans for enhancing the right to unionize. TAPPED should be cheering, not jeering from the sidelines.

Posted by Nathan at September 15, 2003 06:17 PM