Author Michael Lind: US needs ‘new model’ for organized labor

Author Michael Lind called for a “new model” for organized labor in America, noting that most countries operate under a system where collective bargaining benefits entire economic sectors.

“Unions are important because in practice, wages are set by bargaining power, not merely by market forces,” Lind said in a Monday HillTV interview. “Employers do have some wiggle room in setting wages and they will set them as low as possible unless individual workers can pool their bargaining power through collective bargaining power somehow.”

Lind noted that most countries operate under so-called sectoral bargaining, in which employers and labor reach an agreement that covers all workers in a specific sector of the economy. He called this system “better both for workers and for business than the enterprise-based system of unionism that the United States has had since the 1930s.”

Lind faulted this American system for the collapse of American union membership in recent decades. A robust labor movement, he added, is vital for class mobility. “In the absence of these intermediate institutions, which include organized labor, working class people are just cut off from politics and often very alienated from the political system,” he said.

He noted that organized labor was not a partisan issue generations ago, pointing to unions’ support for Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower’s speech addressing the AFL-CIO. However, he said, in the 1990s, “the libertarian movement essentially gained control of economic policy for the right.”


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