All great comments so far, thank you. To reiterate, I think that the historical accomplishments of the American labor movement are probably beyond reproach, but wondered about their efficacy today.
I’ve tried to keep an open mind, but it seems to me that my intitial suspicions about organized labor probably had a good foundation. In ATTrayant’s case he suffered, the phone company suffered, the phone company customers suffered, and only the union technicians who happened to be less valuable than the mean worker and the union bosses and lawyers benefitted. That’s just depressing!
I think his story is probably indicative of the detrimental effects of labor behemoths that won’t go away even after the fair labor laws that made them necessary have been in place for years. The anti-trust point is probably what leads to the most abuse by unions. I wish I knew more, but it certainly sounds like unions are only able to extort firms, consumers, and workers because of their position as a labor monopsony, and I fail to see how that could be good for a society.
As several people have mentioned it’s tough to generalize and hard to argue against the right of a workforce to organize based on historical precedent, both valid points. Still, once you have laws that eliminate wage slavery/sweatshops/child labor any competitive firm that tries to short its workers will see competing firms steal all its best talent. In ATTrayant’s case, a competing phone company (ignoring the natural monopoly of phone companies and deregulation issues) should have been able to offer him a fair rate if his own did not. This is no doubt what would have happened had he worked in a deregulated, union-free industry.
In any case, unions do seem to be in drastic decline in America except in professions where a natural monopoly, government entity, or historically powerful union maintain them (transit workers, teachers, et al.). I can’t help but feel that this decline is a good thing.