Best Writing on the Future of Labor Unions

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Supporters join a candlelight vigil in front of the state Capitol to express sympathy with union members in Wisconsin, Sacramento, Calif. February 2011.(AP Photo/Robert Durell)
Rally or candlelight vigil? Credit: AP Photo/Robert Durell

In the wake of Wisconsin there have been a slew of articles and opinion pieces written about what’s next for labor in America, particularly public service unions. Here are some of the best that we read this week. Read them in order to get a sense of the back and forth in the analysis.

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  • Phil Foti

    Strife, lawless, and suppression… that will cut both ways.  History has a way of repeating itself, and the slippery slope to repeat is being well greased.  Hopefully middle ground will be found, but that would mean a turning back and not moving in the current direction. 

  • Clickitcricket

    Corporations and (public sector) Labor have both gone too
    far. Our politicians have negotiated labor contracts in order to get re-elected
    and tax payers are paying the bills for “benefits” we will never have
    for ourselves. Why, because these benefits are not financial feasible. Like
    everything else we need to find the middle ground, but no one is wants to go there.  I love your show Bill, and I usually think you are spot on, but when it comes to public sector unions I just can’t agree.

  • gerald berke

    the push me/pull me… the gop squeeze on the economy is taking from everybody and we are of course squabbling with ourselves… the unions contribute by poor communications that makes it appear that they are sailing unscathed on what are troubled seas to everyone else… surely there has been a lot of hurt in union jobs… and aren’t their benefits over the top and unsustainable??? And don’t they represent the dollar and not the product?  Is union work better?  

  • Anonymous

    Aside from my general belief that unionized labor is the most effective counterpoint to the corporate megalith, and was the largest factor in the rise of the middle class, I know little of the ins-and-outs of public-sector union collective bargaining.

    That said, I do have several years’ experience with (construction) trade unions, from which I learned that  regular “balance of power” negotiations (between employers and unions) were effective instruments with which to further each party’s interests.

    My questions are these:  Why are we now presented only with cataclysmic, either-or approaches to organized labor?  Does not any middle ground remain?  Take a little/give a little compromise?

    All I see these days are the battles for absolutes — kill the corporations, kill the unions.  What am I missing here?  

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  • Judygranny

    Union obituaries are somewhat premature.  I, too, thought they were dead.  Until Feb 2011 in Madison proved that concept wrong.   They need revisioning, but that will happen.  Give it time – and enough provocation.  Politicians like Walker may be just what unions need to hit them upside the head?

  • Sean

    Well I am a believer in trends and it tells me that the union is very sick. As a former union officer I can tell you that the battles have been lost in the heartland of this country. Steel and coal were decimated in the early 80’s and trade agreement cemented  the decline. The lack of leadership and a strategic plan from the union acerbated today’s  standing. I also believe that the unions continued to act as a business protecting the union officials while the ranks continued to decline. No rank and file member wants to be exploited by his own dues.