The scary post-union future

The scary post-union future
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As I get older, I find a lot of my positions on fiscal matters are starting to moderate, even amidst (or perhaps because of) a period of worsening economic turmoil. It’s increasingly clear, for instance, that limited, targeted tax hikes of some form simply have to be part of any mature strategy to bring deficits and debt under control, even as spending is cut dramatically. As a conservative who favours the strengthening of our civic culture as a pathway to stronger families and communities, it’s likewise become harder to deny that the state does have an important (albeit limited) role to play in our lives as the most practical provider of services like libraries, community centres, and even schools. The private sector does a lot of things very well, but if we believe that society should also champion cultural values beyond crass consumerism, public institutions of civic education and engagement need more, not less support as we move forward.

One realm where I’ve never really felt much pressure to compromise, however, is the matter of unionized labour, for which no fresh arguments or circumstances justifying support ever seem to materialize. It’s why, for all that I dislike about the excesses of the Tea Party and its dogmatic fiscal libertarianism, I never found the actions of TP-backed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker particularly objectionable, and was pleased to see this week’s efforts to forcibly remove him from office fail quite decisively.

Walker, as we may recall, narrowly passed some legislation last winter which dramatically weakened his state’s regime of public sector unionization. Among other things, the jurisdiction of collective bargaining for government employees was restricted exclusively to wage matters, and workers were given the right to opt-out of previously-mandatory union dues if they so chose. Predictably, this provoked enormous push-back from the American labour movement, both local and national, and the fact that this week’s emergency recall election — only the third in U.S. history — was even held at all was a testament to their strength and energy in organizing.

Having now failed to unseat the governor, however, much has been written about whether or not America’s relationship with organized labour has fundamentally changed. Both the unions and Walker’s Republican Party were very keen to frame the vote as a national referendum on that question, after all, meaning some triumphalism was inevitable either way. As the winners, it’s the conservatives who now have been awarded an opportunity to reshape the narrative.

As I discussed in my last cartoon on the matter, one of the main problems with 21st century unionized employees is that their carefully-cultivated, romanticized image as coal-streaked, hard-hatted blue-collar workers just barely scraping by through sheer force of will and fraternal allegiance — an enormously sympathetic image of dignity and justice — has never been more comically outdated.

On the most basic level, the entire “workers vs. capitalists” dichotomy this stereotype presumes is essentially an anachronism. The majority of America’s unionized workforce now serve state employers, rather than private sector bosses, where their labour provides legally-mandated public services rather than goods or products for the marketplace. No longer having to squeeze a threadbare living wage out of miserly robber barons, public sector unionization has greatly warped the entire give-and-take power dynamic of labour negotiations, as extremely generous pay and benefits are easily extracted from an employer who doesn’t have anything to lose by promising them. For those individuals performing the sort of highly-skilled, educated work work modern government requires, particularly teachers, librarians, accountants, and clerical bureaucrats, a government employer all-but-promises a salary considerably higher than one would be able to earn in the private sector — which would hardly be low in the first place.

Liberals’ willingness to excuse, apologize for, and mischaracterize this reality — that the benefits of unionization have shifted disproportionately to people who need them least — by evoking the historic memories of men and women who faced actual hardship and danger in their workplaces is every bit as disingenuous and phoney as right-wingers who deny their across-the-board tax cuts will disproportionately benefit the wealthy. And the long-term consequences for sane fiscal management are no less destructive.

In any case, this most iconic relationship of liberal partisan symbiotics seems to be coming to an end. Despite much weeping on the left and smugness on the right, the fact remains that the Democratic Party isn’t really as dependent on “big labor” as popular lore suggests, and the Walker aftermath may provide a convenient excuse to become even less so. For all the talk of his supposed anti-business credentials, President Obama has shown no difficulty raising gobs of money from Wall Street, and the Democratic base has been growing steadily wealthier over time. The comparatively small amount of money that union bosses are able to wrangle from their shrinking 11% of the US workforce starts to look fairly expendable in contrast. In other words, the idea that Wisconsin demonstrates some fundamental weakness in the progressive coalition against the supposed “big money” forces that back the GOP reflects a fairly caricatured misunderstanding of the true dynamic of modern American elections.

If you press hard enough, almost everyone will concede the empty truism that unions were good “at one time” — namely when most of their members were privately-employed physical laborers working in grossly unregulated conditions — but that “one time” is now more distant than ever. If the actions of Governor Walker embolden other Republican leaders to follow suit with union-busting legislation of their own (which is almost certain) then it seems possible America could soon become the first major economy to enter the post-union age, just as it was one of the first nations to enter the age of organized labor age over a century ago.

It will be an age where public wages and benefits become more sustainable and competitive, the staffing of government agencies becomes smaller and more purposeful, and the broader citizenry is able to enjoy the improved services that inevitably arise from employees who are more motivated, less complacent, and yes, more accountable for their conduct and competence.

The fact that this simple vision of common-sense management of tax-financed makework in the midst of a recession-strapped economy will sound like a dystopian horror to some just highlights how overdue it truly is.




^ 47 Comments...

  1. Dan

    JJ, a pro-union argument I've often heard is that the union acts like a guild, and union labor attracts greater pay and benefits because it's that much better than the unvetted masses that couldn't gain membership to the union. Does that still hold true in any way?

  2. David

    I work in the hiring department of a Canadian crown corporation, and while I can't speak to all public sector unions, the extent of union involvement in hiring where I work is that members get first dibs on any vacancies. When the corporation is actually adding new people, it's mostly up to the managers who will be working with them, just like it would be in the private sector. Even the trade union adds members after they're hired by the company, not the other way around.

  3. JonasB

    I know that in the entertainment sector, the Screen Actors Guild sort of works like this and can also help members find work, but I'm unsure if this is true of other unions.

  4. mcnedelsky

    "For those individuals performing the sort of highly-skilled, educated work work modern government requires, particularly teachers, librarians, accountants, and clerical bureaucrats, a government employer all-but-promises a salary considerably higher than one would be able to earn in the private sector — which would hardly be low in the first place."

    That just seems like nonsense. Do you really believe that teachers as is are overpaid, especially in the United States?

  5. Zulu

    There is something rotten in the state of public education when we pay more per student than any major country in the world yet our students fall behind most developed countries. However, our paying teachers too much isn't the cause of waste. I agree – teachers in the US are paid too little! If they were paid lavish salaries as the media suggests then there wouldn't be such a major shortage of teachers. The fact is that teachers – for what they have to put up with – are underpaid. Supply and demand. However, there is something fundamentally flawed in our system; I don't know what it is really.

  6. Jake_Ackers

    The success of education is not how much money thrown at the problem. A teacher could get paid a million dollars a year but if the education system is not conducive to learning, it won't work.

    Want to know how the Soviets rivaled the USA? Chalk. Yes, chalk. The Soviets made a ton of engineers and mathematicians and the sort all through just passing down knowledge (albeit many were forced in communist countries).

    Even today. It doesn't cost much to teach a student in a 1st world country or a 3rd world one. Knowledge can easily be passed down with a pencil or paper. You don't need computers and expensive lab equipment and projectors.

    The US has the oldest and longest running education system in the world. Yet, it hasn't been updated in almost as long. Education practices in the US are backwards.

  7. J.J. McCullough

    My argument was that public sector teachers earn more than private sector ones, which is completely divorced from whether either variety is paid some objective "right amount." But in any case, I don't think one can ever fairly describe a teacher as being a "low"-paying job, in the grand hierarchy of professions.

  8. @AshburnerX

    Private sector teachers have other benefits that they get that make up for the pay disparity though. Things like smaller class sizes, larger materials budgets, motivated students and parents, administrations that will back them up, safer campuses, higher prestige… these things matter a lot and genuinely make teaching a much more hassle free experience. They are things you can't measure monetarily, only be experience.

    These are also things you fundamentally can't get at a public institution that depends on the public for everything, yet must take all comers by law.

  9. Jake_Ackers

    Yah but public sector teachers get greater economic benefits. Free retirement plans and free health insurance and the ability to retire after 20 years of work. You aren't even in your midlife and you can retire from a public teaching position.

  10. Ben

    If you call paying in to something "free".
    They put money into retirement programs and pay for part of their insurance through paychecks. Same as any other sector that has retirement and insurance programs.

    As per the author's comments;
    "As I discussed in my last cartoon on the matter, one of the main problems with 21st century unionized employees is that their carefully-cultivated, romanticized image as coal-streaked, hard-hatted blue-collar workers just barely scraping by through sheer force of will and fraternal allegiance — an enormously sympathetic image of dignity and justice — has never been more comically outdated."

    I'll remember that next time I come home smelling of sweat, muck and rot, covered in filth and grease and open my check to see another week of pay that will allow me to live a little.

  11. mcnedelsky

    Well, I absolutely think you could describe it as a not WELL paying job, considering the training required and the hours worked. But moreover, agreeing that there is no objective "right" amount puts you in line with the more liberal view that the market price is not necessarily the correct price. And if the market is for some reason not sufficiently valuing a position – that consumers are not fully aware of the value it yields – than it is labour organizations can serve to try and make that wage more representative of value.

  12. Jake_Ackers

    Not really. Most jobs don't have unions and manage quite well to represent wages. Most over unions were not really founded for wages but rather for safety conditions. Teachers don't need hard hats. What the schools do need is greater safety in the inner cities.

    There seems to be a trade off though happening. Because there is less safety the unions feel justified in asking for more and more benefits. Although the real fact is that the money spent on all these benefits would be best fit addressing the problem.

  13. Jake_Ackers

    Moreover there are way more pencil pushing positions in government that good ones like teacher. Most people see a teacher when talking about public sector unions when in fact many are just some bureaucrat pushing papers. And of course police and firefighters normally are not included as least colloquially when talking about public sectors unions.

  14. Rolleyes

    Honestly, I don't think that getting more pay is the main incentive to do more when you're facing a class of kids, including failing ones. You're going to want to have them learn and reach to the ones in need, because they're just right here. Or else I wonder why you became a teacher.
    I think that it's mostly seeing that you can't possibly do this (because the classes are too big, because you have nobody to help you) that demotivate people to the point they don't care anymore.

  15. Gray

    From what I can tell, it's not a matter of "overpaid" versus "underpaid"…in some places, there's been a long-term inability to get rid of bad teachers because of union rules plus "fair representation" rulings (i.e. where the union has to go to bat for you even if you're clearly in the wrong/incompetent). Look up the "rubber rooms" in New York where teachers who were facing disciplinary actions would languish for a long, long time (often over a year), getting pay and benefits even if their case was hopeless.

    Basically, the problem with a lot of these unions is that they turn cut-and-dried incompetence firings into drawn-out fights and in the process prevent inept teachers (which do exist in some districts) or other workers from being removed or substantially delay their removal. My understanding is that they're not even in a position to refuse to back someone up who has an open-and-shut criminal case against them lest they be sued for failing to represent a member.

  16. Ben

    but, as has been pointed out, they own fancy things like a tV and a refridgerator. I mean, how rich do they have to be?!

  17. Kristan Overstreet

    Or, alternately, a post-union age will be one where public services shrivel and die, where only the most incompetent and unmotivated go because of the short wages and lack of benefits, and where the broader citizenry will suffer from a government that does little or nothing that they need or want.

    And really, do you look forward to an era where your police forces are made up of people willing to accept minimum wage so long as there's a badge and gun in it for them?

  18. Ricardo Bortolon

    Why would that necessarily happen? If a gov't keeps wages so low that the services suffer and the public is frustrated then a different gov't will be elected that pays more and revives those services. Artificially keeping wages low is as ridiculous as keeping wages artificially high–unions prevent the free market of democracy to function.

  19. Jake_Ackers

    Very true. The left forgets that the free market is just as likely to raise wages as it is to lower them. Moreover, people tend to accept police and firefighters union because we don't want them to protest nor feel they have the time to do it.

  20. @Cristiona

    Traditionally, working for the government was a matter of trade-offs. You accepted less money and fewer benefits in exchange for nearly guaranteed employment: it took a dire situation to be fired or laid off from a government job. With the ever-swelling ranks of union membership in the public sector, that's grown horribly skewed, meaning that not only do you have nearly iron-clad job security, you're also being paid more and getting better benefits than the private sector.

    Honestly, what trials and tribulations doe the average employee of the DMV suffer that they need union protection?

  21. Brandon

    Great article as always, I love your cartoons, and the commentary is just as fun to read.

    @McNedelsky : Salary.com claims that the median salary for an elementary school teacher is $52,190 a year. Wikipedia claims the average K-12 school year is 170-186 instructional days long. Assuming the teachers have 8 hour days, that’s 35 dollars an hour(assumed 186 days). About 17.50 if you assumed they took absolutely no second source of income during the part of the year where there are no classes.

    I think most people (myself included), believe that GOOD teachers should receive GOOD salaries. The problem all to often when unions get involved, is there is little to no motivation to rise above your co-workers. You “do the job”, and work as hard as you want, you’ll never beat the lazy slob’s seniority.

  22. ToastCrust

    While I'm not super gung-ho behind teachers and such, to simply only account for hours spent during actual school hours as the only time teachers work is an incredibly naive sentiment.

  23. David

    As we all know, Obama clearly supported the unions in Wisconsin as this picture shows: https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-s… . Seems like he backed the losing horse.

  24. Fran

    As someone who works in education, I would argue that unions are still very much needed as the school boards who govern American schools are hostile bodies who seem to only care about their taxes. Our current contract negotiation for teachers involved very underhanded tactics by the school board including mandating a contract that docked teacher salaries, cutting $100 from teacher paychecks without warning, refusing to compromise and spreading false information. They do not believe in giving cost of living adjustments, and consider 20 hours a week for hourly school employees such as student aids "full time." They are focused on cutting budgets, not what's best for the school, teachers or students. The only way to get the school board to properly negotiate a compromise contract was to schedule a strike, something which thankfully we did not have to do as the threat alone was enough to bring the school board back to the table.

    Teachers do not work 8 hour days. Teachers are teachers 24 hours a day. Teachers are mandated reporters, bound by laws and regulations even when they are not in the school building. They take work home, deal with students on weekends if they live in the community that they teach in and have to continually take college courses to renew their teaching license and attend workshops and trainings mandated by law. Teachers are in school days that the students are not.

    And there's no way to get a summer job as a teacher or school employee unless you tutor. All those jobs go to the students.

  25. Ricardo Bortolon

    Given this, it confuses me that Wisconsin would limit collective bargaining to wage issues rather than non-wage issues like establishing when overtime occurs, limiting working hours, etc.

  26. ToastCrust

    Can you outline a metric by which people should be able to gauge the merit of a teacher? Peer review, student review, student performance?

    Simply saying "good teachers should be paid well but the bad ones don't deserve anything!" is fine and good, but I believe to make that line of argument meaningful in the least you'd need to provide a convincing way to actually gauge (on a macro level, since no one is going to higher another tier of bureaucrats just to judge the effectiveness of teachers case-by-case) the "effectiveness" of the teacher.

    And that's a metric that accounts for variables such as the inherent quality of the students taught, materials available to the teacher, the home situation of said students, regional variations of wealth, regional variations in cultural composition, availability and use of 3rd party, extracurricular educators, and so on.

    Since figuring out the "merit" of an instructor in itself is already hairy business. Do you have a mode of doing so in mind? Or would you simply let the Spanish teacher teaching Spanish-speakers a raise and the ones who struggle against unruly cross-sections of basically slums the two-week-notice?

    I too don't particularly enjoy the way public unions exist today (just look at how the police and firefighter unions have hollowed out many municipal governments in California!) but useful argument has to go beyond merely saying people who deserve it should and those who don't do not by using two cariacuture extremes of supposed quality.

    At the very least, an actual way of quantifying "merit" should be provided. Because people don't disagree with the sentiment of those deserving deserve to get, they disagree over whether it's possible to build a hiring structure that can actually accurately, fairly, and reliably account for that. To presuppose the existence of such is just getting the conversation nowhere.

  27. Jake_Ackers

    Again unions love to point to teachers. You still have a ton of bureaucrats who makes loads of money who don't deserve half their benefits.

    Again why should a pencil pusher get all those benefits?

  28. Ricardo Bortolon

    It's funny how a lot of services become susceptible to privatization (even though some services like water table management are most befitting of public control) because the private sector does it more cheaply but no one thinks to just adjust legislation or rein in union wages to reach that goal.

  29. @Kisai

    I'm normally in the "not fond of union" camp, but just to provide the pro-union argument:

    Actors, Screen Writers, Voice Actors (think cartoons/anime and video games) are all part of a guild "unions" because they don't have have an employer at all. The only way they can get healthcare is via the union (or pay out of pocket, which is always leaves you one medical emergency away from bankruptcy.) They all basically work as independent contractors. That said, unions eliminate competition, driving prices up, and jobs to where it's cheaper.

    But I'm not that fond of labor unions, public or private:
    Living in BC, you may soon forget about the NDP reign of Glen Clark, who's only ever been a union organizer (never actually working in the private sector until after he left government) and is responsible for a lot of the pro-union big-government policies. I'd go into more detail, but it can be summarized as "a worker had to be a member of a union to work on taxpayer-funded projects, which discriminates against employees" ( http://www.joconl.com/article/id49277 .) Under the NDP, businesses wouldn't setup in BC because of business-unfriendly policies like this.

  30. Jake_Ackers

    Or you buy health insurance on your own. But considering the big business that is insurance companies, its so freaken high the cost.

  31. Guest

    "that the benefits of unionization have shifted disproportionately to people who need them least"
    That's not necessarily the case. Where public sector unions exist, public sector workers often don't appear to need unions. Where they don't, working for the government pays poorly, conditions and workloads are worse, people are more likely to supplement wages with bribes; especially where the employer has a skills monopoly (e.g. all teachers work for government) and career paths are longer, you can't just threaten to find another employer in the way a retail worker can, you've got to have a way of getting a fair deal on the job. In many places, civil servants also have restricted political rights.

    Many unions, unfortunately, have gone through a phase of only organising in 'fertile' sectors. In places, the union movement has complacently relied heavily on contract bargaining rather than building shop-floor democracy, and those industries are in decline.

  32. @MHR_Topher

    It's an interesting situation. I believe in the basis of unions, an organization that supports workers within a profession, but I do like the current powers held by unions. Having studied unions there are growing trends that lead me to grow against unions. Some of these include the rise in union leaders acting against the actual members of their unions, another is the power unions hold politically was unrivaled until Citizens United. Everything that unions complained about (massive money into media and leaders) in Wisconsin were the same things they used to hold some control at the local, state and federal level. Lastly the shear amount of bureaucracy is nearly unmatched which lead to inefficient and ineffective modes of change.

    I believe in the benefits that unions should provide, that unified voice and power, but most (not all) unions have become so ineffective that they need to change but refuse (or can't) change. The teachers unions are examples of this, while they do need protection, they also need to make changes, especially with disciple and education reform, but the union structure makes it nearly impossible. Overall, I think union reform needs to be explored more fully by economists and sociologists because having reform rather than remove of unions should allow them to maintain the benefits while removing the massive bureaucracy and unwillingness to adapt that exists within the current structure and needs to be changed.

  33. Svan

    I would imagine typical union support argues along the lines of maintenance and necessary vigilance, rather than for expansion of additional labor rights. From within the union, undoubtedly, workers see the union as a legitimate channel for addressing grievances and seeing that their interests are being represented to management. Now to an outside observer, it may seem obvious that other avenues might more successful achieve the interests of the worker, or that societal benefits yielded through better production may be unnaturally stunted by already generous pro-labor lobbying. However I don't think many people would say that a structural safeguards against exploitation and abuse should be abolished simply because we have achieved the static image of a healthy labor environment.

    I do not buy the argument that constitutional intervention is required to correct union problems. In many places unions do have what seems like a self-annihilating rigor mortis on levers of public power, this however does not deterministically crank out the conclusion that unions should be amputated from legal and cultural relevancy. No thinking person imagines democracy as a one time event, something you reach and then habitually shelved; only to be brought out on lunar cycles for binge interests.

    This is part of what many perhaps anti-union people find so unbashabledly shaming about the choice of rhetoric used to defend unions. Linking union history to the soul of democracy has a way of eliminating moderation. What I'm not cheering about however, is the idea that Scott Walker represents some sort of sane middle ground that adequately responds to both labor demands and market efficiency.

  34. vector

    Well, about to start a fire storm from the pro union folks. Having been a union member in an educated and skilled work force (engineering) it is my experience that the union is the most destructive force in the skilled working environment. The sentiment that unions breed complacency and laziness was something I observed every day. A significant portion of the work force had an attitude of not needing to try or to do a good job because it was nearly impossible for the employer to do anything to the employee. In my personal experience the stereotype that the unions protect the “week and lazy” at the expense of the strong is 100% valid in a workforce that is educated and skilled. And the reality is that if the employee is educated and skilled and the employer treats him poorly he will vote with his feet. If the worker has skills, jobs are available, even in this economy.

    That having been said, my grandfather fought for the unions back in the day. I heard the stories of what it was like working in the automobile factories in Detroit. At the time, something needed to be done. It appears that working conditions won’t get as bad in the automobile factories as they were back then, at least not for a while. Companies do have images to worry about now. However, any job that is unskilled labor is probably still to this day at risk of abuse. Especially in areas like mining and other dangerous unskilled work where the costs for safety equipment or safe operational methods is a significant portion of the overhead. There will always be in these areas desires from some owners to cut costs and increase profits at the expense of safety.

    Still, unions in a work force that requires a significant amount of education and skills to be able to enter in the first place, bad idea. Always has been, always will be. The most powerful tool the employee has (if he is truly skilled) is to leave and go somewhere else and take his skills and knowledge with him.

  35. Jake_Ackers

    That's the problem. Unions fight for everyone and not just the deserving. It's the classic "free rider problem." Although it's not exactly a free ride but the same principle applies. The lazy get just as much as the hard working.

  36. Jake_Ackers

    Actually in the USA, federal unions have been limited more than most think. FDR did go after the federal public unions to a degree.

  37. Jake_Ackers

    Actually in the USA, federal unions have been limited more than most think. FDR did go after the federal public unions to a degree.

    Moreover, unions cause unemployment. A huge part of union costs are not the wages but rather the benefits. Most of these benefits do not actually benefit the worker at all but rather increase cost. Which in turn creates less money for the state or company. Thus if your budget is X you can only hire Y amount of workers. But because of the benefits and higher union wages you can only hire less than Y.

    Just look at the growth in jobs and economy in right to work states. The largest growing cities tend to be in those states. Ie: South.

  38. Armand David Domalewski

    The argument that public employees make more than private employees is simply not true. Yes, blunt averages do indicate that to be the case, but the nature of public employment is significantly skewed towards white collar, highly skilled, educated work. The fair comparison to make is to compare equivalent workers by education level. When you do that, you realize that you pay a premium to work in the public sector.

    This chart is really revealing.
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/blog_

  39. Jake_Ackers

    You have to compare the same job. Comparing education levels is just the left's way of twisting the numbers in their favor. Plus take into account all the benefits the union workers make. Private sector workers do not have the kind of benefits public sector do. Many just retire after as little as 20 years of work.

  40. Kadin

    In related news, the city of Chicago is looking to extend teachers' working hours by 26% from next year, and is offering a 3% pay rise to compensate.

  41. JP Johnson

    My girlfriend isn't in the teacher's union yet as she has been relegated to long term substitute status for awhile. She's on her parents health insurance, she's been working on a slight loss every year and has no retirement accruing. I wish the unions were strong enough to absorb the long term subs, btu that's no the way it is. I find the unions are the only thing keeping the short-term thinking school boards from breaking the profession. In my opinion, unions do far more good than bad.

  42. Zulu

    Teachers where I live (a major metro area) start earning $32k…even with benefits that’s awful. That’s precisely why there’s a teacher shortage (at least here)

  43. Thomas

    I remember a union recruiter trying to get me to join. He told me i could cuss, spit , and be a general douche to the company and the management and the union would support me so long as i paid my dues.

    Not once did he mention I had to be a good employee or do quality work.

    I didn't really like that guy.

  44. Guest

    Ah, the service model.

    Unfortunately, reps like that give the rest of us a bad name.

  45. Guest

    There are good arguments that the financial crisis would have been averted or mitigated with better union organisation.

    Subprime mortgages are a lot less risky if the people you're lending to have better job-security and enough wages to save a little.

    And if the lowest paid bargained for better wages, not only would they be more secure in the downturn, but public finances would be in better shape to support those who do lose their jobs, because higher wages for them means more in tax receipts and less in benefits.

    Much of the ongoing slump has to do with a drop in median consumer spending. Again, if real wages hadn't been falling, this wouldn't be a problem.

    But because of a weak labour force, the distribution of GDP has shifted towards capital over several decades. And globalisation and finance agreements has meant capital has become freer, and therefore volatility has increased.

    So naturally, the solution to fiscal pressures are to undermine the unions…

  46. Green40

    There seems little need for unions these days because employers are less harshly abusing their employees… but that's come about simply because we had unions in the past. Unions are why you're not currently working a 60-hour workweek at below-minimum wage and won't be promptly fired the moment someone's desperate enough to do the job cheaper. Unions are why people have any sort of health and safety regulations in the first place.

    Sure, there may not seem much need for them at the moment, but without them as a political counterweight representing workers, I think we'd soon see things swinging back in the opposite direction.

  47. Sam

    You're an idiot. Rather than trying to promote private sector unionization to help bring up the rest of the workforce, you fall for management and finance's divide and conquer tactics. Instead of whining about how great teachers have it (which really isn't all that great), maybe you should think about why you have it so bad.