Friday, September 09, 2011

Unions of Peace

Joe Biden, Labor Day:
"We've been through a lot of fights, but this is a different kind of fight," he told an annual Labor Day gathering of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO. "This is a fight for the heart and soul of the labor movement. This is a fight literally for our right to exist. Don't misunderstand what this is. … You are the only folks keeping the barbarians from the gates."

From the NYT yesterday:
About 500 longshoremen stormed the new $200 million terminal in Longview before sunrise Thursday, carrying baseball bats, smashing windows, damaging rail cars and dumping tons of grain from the cars, police and company officials said.

von Mises noted that unions were based on coercion and monopoly, sources of inefficiency and simple injustice in most scenarios, but, they're populist, so it's always tempting to rationalize them in some way.


Anonymous said...

While unions are certainly sources of injustice and unfairness, critics of them often forget that they were a response to very serious injustice.

If you ever drive through the industrial east, you will notice small towns nestled into valleys with names like Butler Forge, that consist entirely of a 19th century factory surrounded by tiny, old shacks. In the late 1800s, workers in those factories were paid in rent for the shacks of those company towns and in credit at the company store, with no opportunity to save, no opportunity for ownership. Their children often worked in those factories as well. This was legal and virtual slavery -- that is, until unions came along.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous @ 9:26:

Yes, but times change. Perhaps the threat of "legal and virtual slavery" is coming from other quarters these days.


Anonymous said...

Uhhh, so why did those "virtual slaves" leave their farms to come to the factory towns in the first place?... Possibly they weren't as smart as enlightened as you are?

Anonymous said...

We don't need to abolish unions, just take away enough power so they don't destroy other industries like they did the car industry.

This can be done without going back to the 19th century. And we need to do it soon because they're well on their way towards destroying public education and municipal budgets.

Anonymous said...

Unions are a market-based solution to a market-based problem.

Even Friedman knew that.

Anonymous said...

this is hilarious, Jon Stewart Body-slams a union boss and his bogus, non-union picket line workers!