Why The American Middle-Class Needs Unions

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Last night in Wisconsin, voters weighed in on whether Governor Scott Walker would stay in office. The recall began with protests over Governor Walker's attempts to curb union bargaining power in Wisconsin. However, as the election approached it grew into a divisive political fight, with $60 million on both sides. 

Whether or not the Wisconsin recall will prove to be a bellweather for the 2012 presidential election, it is certain to have implications for the future of labor unions throughout the country. Joe Nocera, Op-Ed Columnist for our partner the New York Times, explains how the decline of labor unions has worsened income inequality – and why middle-class Americans should be concerned.

Guests:

Joe Nocera

Produced by:

Mythili Rao

Comments [4]

anna from new york

"I have a great idea for heads of industry and the conservative middle-class folks who love them: Awards! Instead of raises and benefits and healthcare you should give your employees awards. I'm talking about ribbons and trophies, plaques and certificates."
I think they already do this in many places. The idea of course isn't new - the former Soviet Union was notorious for ... "rewarding." I still don't how the Soviet Union managed to collapse without a major bloodshed. I doubt an imitator will be so lucky.
But if you insist, here my contributing ideas:
"Hero of Corporate Slavery"
"Hero of Fascist Dominance" etc. - not perfect, but something to build on.

Jun. 06 2012 03:22 PM
Charles

Joe Nocera's NYT column talks about labor unions in the private sector. Actually, Nocera doesn't make that very clear; but nowhere does he mention labor unions in the public sector. He talks about the private sector economy in general.

And Scott Walker's Wisconsin reforms had nothing to do with private sector collective bargaining, for factories and services and other such things. NOTHING. So Joe Nocera swung and whiffed on this pitch.

Then Nocera turned to blaming Wisconsin on "Citizen's United." Which is total nonsense. I am actually insulted at the low-level commentary offered by Nocera. Citizens' United dealt with corporate, independent electioneering. Not individual donations to candidates. And incidentally, the majority of the donatinons to Scott Walker's campaign -- something like 73% -- were individual donations of $50 or less.

I'll happily retract any or all of this if I am wrong. But I'm not worng; Joe Nocera is wrong. Corporate electioneering was hardly at issue in the recall. Walker did get a lot of small individual donations, and a much lesser number of large individual (not corporate) donations. Neither of those types of money transfers were even addressed by Citizins United.

The Takeaway ought to get some smarter commentators if you want to talk about campaign finance law.

Jun. 06 2012 02:36 PM

I have a great idea for heads of industry and the conservative middle-class folks who love them: Awards! Instead of raises and benefits and healthcare you should give your employees awards. I'm talking about ribbons and trophies, plaques and certificates. With the labor costs you save there will be bonuses that will allow you to buy these tokens of appreciation.

Clearly, unions were created because workers felt taken for granted. Now with this simple gesture you can put an end to unions altogether. It's in the best interest of the shareholders and a possible tax break for your company thanks to our Republican-dominated congress.

You know, no one likes welfare. But everyone loves publicly-subsidized charitable contributions.

Jun. 06 2012 10:26 AM
listener

Unions are important and have their place but the other extreme of making unreasonable demands on a state going broke and than resorting to malicious and expensive tactics of gaming the system costing millions of dollars when the voters disagree with them is inappropriate to say the least. The question is has the union movement turned into what they originally struggled against?
In any event it is going to be a long election year.

Jun. 06 2012 09:59 AM

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