Assessing the future of unions

unions.jpg The Scott Walker victory has some people wondering whether there even is a future. That would seem to be a stretch, especially if you examine unions one by one. Here in Southern California, the Longshoreman's union, the Writer's Guild, the Screen Actor's Guild, the Teamsters, and the Coalition of L.A. City Unions all remain powerful players within their respective industries (though clearly less powerful than they were two or three decades ago). The outlook is more precarious in occupations that rely on fewer skills or are in an industry that's struggling to survive (newspapers, for instance). Felix Salmon examines the issues in global terms:

American workers need their big multinational employers more than the big multinational employers need American workers. One of the biggest secular forces in the decline of labor has surely been the glut of skilled and unskilled workers coming onto the international labor force in recent decades, particularly in China. As a result, I suspect that any truly important next-generation social movement will be profoundly international in nature, and will have to make big strides in China before it has any real effect in the US. Laborers in Chinese factories aren't just competing with US workers for jobs: they're also, in a weird way, the best hope those US workers have for real improvements in how they're treated and paid.

Andrew Sullivan has collected other voices.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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