Unions

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With anarchist exceptions, libertarians align with their wealthy funders to oppose unions. Supposedly unions have special privileges from government: but these libertarians somehow don't notice that corporations have special privileges from government. John Kenneth Galbraith pointed this out in his theory of countervailing powers.

Links

Belated Feudalism: Labor, the Law, and Liberal Development in the United States (book)
Trade unions and the New Deal institution of collective bargaining helped end the feudal common law of master and servant that made capitalism so inegalitarian and undemocratic.
Econ 101 No Longer Explains the Job Market [More...]
"Together with the evidence on minimum wage, this new evidence suggests that the competitive supply-and-demand model of labor markets is fundamentally broken. If employers have the power to set wages, then not just minimum wage, but other labor market policies -- for example, union-friendly laws -- can be expected to help workers a lot more than popular introductory economics textbooks now predict."
Firm Market Power and the Earnings Distribution [More...]
Market power, a form of market failure, produces a positive relationship between a firm's labor supply elasticity and the earnings of its workers. This paper provides empirical evidence measuring market power and showing that employers with more power pay lower wages. Especially at lowest incomes.
Keynes on Laissez-Faire [More...]
Gavin Kennedy writes: "‘Laissez-nous faire’ is not advocated as a universal principle for merchants and their customers; it was a very partial principle for merchants only... [Mill and mine owners] wrapped themselves in laissez-faire flags to wipe up the blood of their employees when they demanded their own freedoms and not those of their labourers or their customers."
Monopsony in Motion (book)
Analyzes labor markets from the real-world perspective that employers have significant market (or monopsony) power over their workers because of transaction costs of changing jobs. "The book addresses the theoretical implications of monopsony and presents a wealth of empirical evidence."
Predistribution: wages and unions (extract from Economics in Two Lessons) [More...]
"The wages that emerge from labor markets are the products of a complex process of implicit and explicit bargaining between workers, employers and (where they exist) unions. The outcomes of those bargains depend on the relative power of the parties and that in turn depends on the rules set out by society."
Right To Work (1 link)
In the USA, this is a cynical ploy to strike down unions and regulation.
The bad teacher conspiracy [More...]
Statistics show that the problems in American education are not bad teachers, but instead are strongly correlated with poverty. The distraction from this fact, the emphasis on bashing teachers, comes from right wingers determined to break unions.
The Fallacy of Tuna Fish Economics [More...]
Andrei Shleifer caught propagandizing for privatization at Harvard. "Of all people, Professor Shleifer should know that contracting out and privatization do not always work as advertised." He was the director of the corrupt privatization of post-Soviet Russia.
The Left's Big Sellout: How The ACLU and Human Rights Groups Quietly Exterminated Labor Rights [More...]
"I went to the websites of three of the biggest names in liberal activist politics: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the ACLU. Checking their websites, I was surprised to find that not one of those three organizations lists labor as a major topic or issue that it covers." Hayek and Koch influences are blamed.
The Legislative Attack on American Wages and Labor Standards, 2011–2012 [More...]
There has been a huge, nationwide, state-level attack on workers led by ALEC and others. "This policy agenda undercuts the ability of low- and middle-wage workers, both union and non-union, to earn a decent wage."
There is no necessary trade-off between good work and more work [More...]
"A macroeconomic perspective also shows the short-sightedness of laissez-faire fundamentalism. Even if, in the short term, a “low road” of exploitive labor practices benefits many in their role as consumers, they will eventually end up losing out as producers."
Three sentences no one should forget about unions [More...]
"[...] unions are inherently conservative institutions, which historically developed parallel with the development of capitalism itself. They are as much a part of capitalism as Henry Ford or Apple. Unions use contracts -- and there's nothing more intrinsic to capitalism than the right of contract -- to link their members to the fortunes of the companies they contract with."
Unions and Productivity [More...]
Cross-country studies show unions increase productivity. They are a more flexible alternative to regulation. They are also associated with lower CEO compensation.
Unions Did Great Things for the Working Class [More...]
"Other than massive government redistribution of income and wealth, there’s really no other obvious way to address the country’s rising inequality. Also, there’s the chance that unions might be an effective remedy for the problem of increasing corporate market power -- evidence suggests that when unionization rates are high, industry concentration is less effective at suppressing wages."

Quotations

Odes of praise to the common law, and mistrust of legislative modifications of it, allow libertarians to say that the true benchmark of rights is provided by the older rules, not the newer ones. Judged against this standard, of course, the rules that benefit employers, landlords and manufacturers simply define liberty and property rights whereas the rules that benefit workers, tenants and consumers are interferences with liberty. The rules one likes are the foundations of sacred property rights, those one does not like are meddlesome regulation. This is a nice trick...
James Boyle, "Foucault in cyberspace -- Chapter 2: Libertarianism, Property and Harm" pg. 19.
Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers, endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.
George Monbiot, "Neoliberalism, the ideology at the root of all our problems"
The more fundamental change that is needed is a revision of assumptions that are taken for granted, throughout the political process, that corporations are a natural feature of market economies, while unions are an alien intrusion[...] corporations, like unions, are social constructions, which could not exist except as a result of conscious policy decisions to change the rules of a market economy.
John Quiggin, "Predistribution: wages and unions (extract from Economics in Two Lessons)"
For all this vast and sparkling intellectual production, though, we hear surprisingly little about what it’s like to be managed. Perhaps the reason for this is because, when viewed from below, all the glittering, dazzling theories of management seem to come down to the same ugly thing. This is the lesson that Barbara Ehrenreich learns from the series of low-wage jobs that she works and then describes in all their bitter detail in her new book, Nickel and Dimed. Pious chatter about “free agents” and “empowered workers” may illuminate the covers of Fast Company and Business 2.0, but what strikes one most forcefully about the world of waitresses, maids, and Wal-Mart workers that Ehrenreich enters is the overwhelming power of management, the intimidating array of advantages it holds in its endless war on wages. This is a place where even jobs like housecleaning have been Taylorized to extract maximum output from workers (“You know, all this was figured out with a stopwatch,” Ehrenreich is told by a proud manager at a maid service), where omnipresent personality and drug tests screen out those of assertive nature, where even the lowliest of employees are overseen by professional-grade hierarchs who crack the whip without remorse or relent, where workers are cautioned against “stealing time” from their employer by thinking about anything other than their immediate task, and where every bit of legal, moral, psychological, and anthropological guile available to advanced civilization is deployed to prevent the problem of pay from ever impeding the upward curve of profitability. This is the real story of life under markets.
Thomas Frank, "The God That Sucked"