Saturday, June 9, 2012

Labor’s Decline and Wage Inequality


The decline in organized labor’s power and membership has played a larger role in fostering increased wage inequality in the United States than is generally thought. [.. T]wo professors found that the decline of organized labor held down wages in union and nonunion workplaces alike. Many nonunion employers — especially decades ago, when unions represented more than 30 percent of the private sector work force — raised wages to help avert the threat of union organizing.

Moreover, the study argues that when unions were larger and had a far greater voice in politics and society, they played a more influential role in advocacy on wages across the economy, for instance, in pushing to raise the minimum wage.


Correlation does not mean causation. If two variables are correlated there could be a third variable  that is effecting both. Decline of labor and decrease in wages are due to developments in technology; new tech is displacing workers, and is not creating as many new ones (actualy it could, if it wasnt for the archaic education system ). And, labor declines as a political force because their membership is in decline which, in turn, is due to  Third Wave.

The author of the article (and the book he quotes) keeps harping about unions, but I wonder if he has ever seen a unionized company in person. He should go to one and take a look.  At such places, you can't even move a damn desk from corner of the room to another. That's a union job. Union defines that micro job and assignes a dude to that micro job. And we are only talking about moving a desk, not operating a crane here.

Unions sadly became just another layer of management, and worse, with unclear responsibility and accountability that is attached to such formations. This indirect and inflexible arrangement contains specialization, standardization and that creates more unwanted (second wave) inefficiencies at the workplace. Especially in the fast paced economy of today, creating such boxes beforehand is a no-go.

The Left in US needs to think less blue-collar, less (20th century) industrial and more hi-tech, and white collar. I understand at one point in your history you were "lost in the wilderness" for which you needed the current line-up of tactical operators that would save you -- these people were able to adapt to the current "realities", managed the day-day better, provided more action, and less thinking, which was good for you considering how messed up your thinking was in the past. But now you seem to be reverting back to type thinking maybe there were some "gems" in the good ol' days. IMHO both of these roads are defunct, and will take you nowhere. Better (and different) ideas are needed.