HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Reich: Unions are almost ...
Introducing Discussionist: A new forum by the creators of DU

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 09:53 PM

Reich: Unions are almost extinct in America because we’ve chosen to make them extinct.

Manufacturing is starting to return to America but it’s returning without many jobs. The old assembly line has been replaced by robotics and numerically-controlled machine tools. Technologies have also replaced many formerly unionized workers in telecommunications (remember telephone operators?) and clerical jobs.

But wait. Other nations subject to the same forces have far higher levels of unionization than America. 28 percent of Canada’s workforce is unionized, as is more than 25 percent of Britain’s, almost 20 percent of Germany’s.

Unions are almost extinct in America because we’ve chosen to make them extinct.

Unlike other rich nations, our labor laws allow employers to replace striking workers. We’ve also made it exceedingly difficult for workers to organize, and we barely penalized companies that violate labor laws. (A worker who’s illegally fired for trying to organize a union may, if lucky, get the job back along with back pay – after years of legal haggling.)

Don’t blame globalization and technological change for why employees at Walmart, America’s largest employer, still don’t have a union. They’re not in global competition and their jobs aren’t directly threatened by technology. Walmart is a microcosm of the American economy. It has brazenly fought off unions. But it could easily afford to pay its workers more. It earned $16 billion last year. Much of that sum went to Walmart’s shareholders, including the family of its founder, Sam Walton.

http://robertreich.org/post/41745594892

21 replies, 1908 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 21 replies Author Time Post
Reply Reich: Unions are almost extinct in America because we’ve chosen to make them extinct. (Original post)
pampango Jan 2013 OP
Squinch Jan 2013 #1
MAD Dave Jan 2013 #2
Romulox Jan 2013 #3
woo me with science Jan 2013 #4
Romulox Jan 2013 #5
Romulox Jan 2013 #6
woo me with science Jan 2013 #7
pampango Jan 2013 #8
Romulox Jan 2013 #12
Egalitarian Thug Jan 2013 #13
Starry Messenger Jan 2013 #9
pampango Jan 2013 #11
Romulox Jan 2013 #14
pampango Jan 2013 #17
Romulox Jan 2013 #18
pampango Jan 2013 #19
Romulox Jan 2013 #20
pampango Jan 2013 #21
xchrom Jan 2013 #10
ananda Jan 2013 #15
dmosh42 Jan 2013 #16

Response to pampango (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 09:57 PM

1. K & R

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pampango (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 10:51 PM

2. Prime Minister Harper has been leading a full court press

against organized labour since he took office in 2006. He has introduced back to work legislation in an airline strike, a postal worker strike and a rail strike all in the guise of protecting the economy.

I hope to land a fully unionized job soon. I can't wait.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pampango (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 12:41 AM

3. This is the same Robert Reich who spent the '90s shilling for NAFTA, and the 2000s

denying that the collapse in manufacturing had anything to do with same?

How shameless.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Romulox (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 01:08 AM

4. He's right now.

Would you rather he didn't say it?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to woo me with science (Reply #4)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 01:15 AM

5. Reich was defending NAFTA as late as 2008. Has he recanted, or not?

In order to be forgiven, one has to *make amends*. Reich has not, so I can only assume that he still believes the following:

"it's a shame the Democratic candidates for president feel they have to make trade - specifically NAFTA - the enemy of blue-collar workers and the putative cause of their difficulties. NAFTA is not to blame."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gerald-mcentee/robert-reichs-endorsement_b_97450.html

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to woo me with science (Reply #4)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 01:19 AM

6. Also, just please be aware that the entire oeuvre of the OP is to post "free trade" support

coupled with platitudes how unionization will somehow offset the negative effects thereof. So this is not a conversation happening in a vacuum.

The point being, we have now almost 20 years of history that proves her (and Reich) wrong. Workers undercut by "free trade" have no leverage to demand union protections. Which is the entire point.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Romulox (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 01:27 AM

7. Point taken.

Thank you.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Romulox (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 08:15 AM

8. And your entire oeuvre is to attack messengers rather than discuss messages.

Workers undercut by "free trade" have no leverage to demand union protections. - Sounds logical except that the world proves you wrong. (Before you yell, I realize that you don't care what happens in the rest of the world. There is nothing they can teach us. We are the USA!) Every country with stronger unions has more international trade then the US does - and not just a little more trade.

If trade weakened unions, the countries with the most trade - Germany (trade is 86% of their GDP), Canada (51%), etc. - would have the weakest unions and the US (24%) would have the strongest. That is simply not the case, but go ahead blast those messengers. (Oh, and thanks for including me with Robert Reich in your most recent blast.)

To blame our union problems on trade with foreigners rather than on actions taken by Americans (Taft-Hartley, Reagan's union-busting, etc.) is sad.

The US has 'free trade' with 20 countries (out of more than 200). The total population of those 20 countries is about 380 million - 20% more than our 315 million people. Canada has 'free trade' with over 500 million people - 15 times Canada's population, Germany with almost 1 billion (998 million) people - 12 times their population. And these progressive countries have much stronger unions. The positive correlation between trade and strong unions/equitable incomes must aggravate you.

I apologize for all these facts and statistics. I understand that the mantra that 'free trade is bad for unions in the US, even if that is not the case in the rest of the world' is impervious to them. Part of belief that "the US is different - perhaps even exceptional - and can learn nothing from the rest of the world."

You may now return to your regularly scheduled program - "Foreigners cause all of our labor problems. Pay not attention to Mr. Taft, Mr. Hartley, Mr. Reagan, et al behind that curtain. They are Americans and are not the cause of our labor problems. If we just did not trade with foreigners, right-to-work states would magically disappear and Walmart would be 100% union."

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pampango (Reply #8)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 09:39 AM

12. I'm right here, discussing it. The problem is that *you aren't honest with people* about your true

goals.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled program - "Foreigners cause all of our labor problems. Pay not attention to Mr. Taft, Mr. Hartley, Mr. Reagan, et al behind that curtain. They are Americans and are not the cause of our labor problems. If we just did not trade with foreigners, right-to-work states would magically disappear and Walmart would be 100% union."


Nobody said any of that but you, but this sort of break down (and concomitant inability to rationally explain one's position without name-calling) is also part of your schtick.

It's not like you just started posting this garbage!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Romulox (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 09:45 AM

13. Yep, that's the one. But it's OK, he's seen the light now.

 

It's just too bad that he didn't when he could have actually done something about it (I mean besides sell books and collect lecture fees).

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pampango (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 08:29 AM

9. CA just added 100,000 new union members last year.

He's right that the laws need to be favorable to allow organization--China's WalMarts have unions. Is Reich doing something to craft legislation to help overturn our anti-labor laws?

Six states are poised to go right to work, hope to see him out on the lines.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #9)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 09:24 AM

11. "Reich on Why Right-to-Work Legislation is Anti-Labor: ‘As Labor Unions Have Declined, Wages

Have Declined in Tandem’ "

Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO:

“Viewpoint” host Eliot Spitzer and Robert Reich, former U.S. labor secretary and professor at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, analyze why Michigan’s right-to-work law is bad for the economy and the middle class. “As labor unions have declined, workers have had less power, and — significantly — the median wage has declined in tandem. In fact, over the last 30 years, most workers have seen no increase in their wages at all,” says Reich.

http://uwua.net/videos/reich-on-why-right-to-work-legislation-is-anti-labor-as-labor-unions-have-declined-wages-have-declined-in-tandem.html

There's a video of the interview between Spitzer and Reich at the link.

Given his views on right-to-work I too hope that he is involved in crafting legislation to overturn anti-labor laws.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pampango (Reply #11)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 09:45 AM

14. "Free trade" is logically identical to "right to work" in terms of harming unionized workers.

Cheap, non-unionized labor hurts American workers, weather that labor takes place here or abroad. There is no way to reconcile your Laissez-faire economics with workers' rights. It's not possible.

But you know that.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Romulox (Reply #14)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 12:23 PM

17. And yet progressive countries are able to reconcile trade and strong unions.

Kind of a conundrum, isn't it when reconciling two things (trade and strong unions) 'is not possible' but maddeningly happens in every progressive developed country in the world?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pampango (Reply #17)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 02:05 PM

18. EVERY one of those countries protects domestic workers and industries. EVERY one.

EVERY one of those countries also runs a trade surplus with the United States (that means that we run a trade deficit with every last one of them, too.)

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Romulox (Reply #18)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 03:16 PM

19. Oh, they certainly protect domestic workers. That's how they end up with strong unions and equitable

distributions of income in their countries. They don't do this by restricting trade but they certainly do protect their citizens (workers and non-workers) with strong safety nets, progressive taxation and strong labor legislation. I agree with you there.

EVERY one of those countries also runs a trade surplus with the United States (that means that we run a trade deficit with every last one of them, too.) - Not true, but you probably know that.

And your equally forceful declaration that "EVERY one of those countries protects domestic workers and industries. EVERY one." may be equally untrue if you are talking about trade-based 'protections' rather than those I listed above. You declared it to be true with no apparent explanation of how these countries trade so prodigiously if they have erected 'protections' against everyone. Simple declarations are impressive but not necessarily convincing.

Progressive countries have to follow the same trading rules that the US has to follow as far as 'protections' are concerned. Since you are going down this path, do you think these progressive countries cheat (or bend the rules, if you prefer) to achieve this allegedly universal trade surplus (in spite of their high wages and strong unions) or are trading rules set up to benefit progressive countries and we suffer because we are not one?

If their 'surplus' is due to 'cheating' be aware that there are more cases filed against the US (119 pending) for 'cheating' than the EU (73), Canada (17) and Australia (13) combined, despite the fact that their combined populations and GDP's are larger than ours. If their 'surplus' is due to trading rules being rigged in favor of progressive countries, then the easy solution if for the US to become more progressive rather than tearing down progressive countries to our level.

On another note, since you're going down the trade surplus/deficit path, the US had a trade surplus last year with 12 of the 20 countries with which we have 'free trade' agreements. So if having a trade surplus is your new standard of a successful trade policy, well there you go.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pampango (Reply #19)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 03:48 PM

20. I reject your entire "cheating" frame--the system of international corporatism is *designed* to

impoverish the American worker, which is why no "cheating" is required. These trade deals are lopsided, such that we have massive trade deficits will all of our largest trading partners, including Canada, Mexico, (NAFTA) and Germany (EU powerhouse).

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Romulox (Reply #20)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 04:56 PM

21. I did not allege anyone was 'cheating' so you have nothing to reject.

I was asking you a question, not making an allegation.

The entire international trading system is a conspiracy to impoverish the American worker - but not the German worker or the Canadian worker or the Australian worker? American exceptionalism in a perverse way, no? Again, it's those damn foreigners who are out to get us, not our own 1%. I can't argue with that.

These trade deals are lopsided, such that we have massive trade deficits will all of our largest trading partners, including Canada, Mexico, (NAFTA) and Germany (EU powerhouse).

Of course, the US has no "trade deal" with Germany as it does with Canada, Mexico and 18 other countries. We trade with Germany without a 'trade deal' as we do with the whole world other than the 20 countries with which we have 'trade deals'.

We have a slight (not 'massive') trade deficit with Canada ($270 billion in exports, $298 billion in imports in 2012) and that deficit is wholly due to the fact that we import over $100 billion in oil annually from Canada. (In terms of manufactured goods we have a large trade surplus with Canada.) Given this I find it difficult to blame our trade deficit with Canada on a 'trade deal' since we will import their oil under any 'trade system' you can come up with.

If we simply cut off oil imports from Canada, we would have a huge trade surplus with it but you can imagine how high the price of gas would be in the US. I doubt you want to go down that road.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pampango (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 08:47 AM

10. du rec. nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pampango (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 09:50 AM

15. Three words: organization, civil disobedience.

..

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pampango (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 10:06 AM

16. Being a union member sometimes requires being able to tell the company when it's in the wrong...

and most people would rather cower down and avoid confrontation. As a life member of a national union, I remember it always took strong leadership to remind the members when they were getting the shaft.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread