Notes From Babel

Can we agree that public sector unions are not the same as private sector unions?

with one comment

Kevin Drum today, Why We Need Unions, responds to a tweet in which ModeledBehavior slams public sector unions for capping the number of charter schools.  Drum says:

Nobody should buy this. Of course unions have pathologies. Every big human institution does. And anyone who thinks they’re on the wrong side of an issue should fight it out with them. But unions are also the only large-scale movement left in America that persistently acts as a countervailing power against corporate power. They’re the only large-scale movement left that persistently acts in the economic interests of the middle class.

So sure: go ahead and fight the teachers unions on charter schools. Go ahead and insist that public sector unions in Wisconsin need to take pay and benefit cuts if that’s what you believe. Go ahead and rail against Davis-Bacon. It’s a free country.

But the decline of unions over the past few decades has left corporations and the rich with essentially no powerful opposition. No matter what doubts you might have about unions and their role in the economy, never forget that destroying them destroys the only real organized check on the power of the business community in America. If the last 30 years haven’t made that clear, I don’t know what will.

What do “corporate power” and Davis-Bacon and “the business community” have to do with public sector unions?  I’m starting to spot a trend in which the left purports to defend public sector unions by making arguments as to private sector unions. There are plenty of folks who have explained that the two are almost completely different.  Steve Bainbridge, for example has explained why he is in favor of private unions but opposed to public unions.  I also put myself in this category.

So I find this post by Drum to be quite dishonest by purporting to equate the two as if private and public unions rise and fall by the same rationale. They don’t. 


Written by Tim Kowal

February 21, 2011 at 11:17 am

One Response

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  1. While taxpayers groan under their tax burdens, one group of voters is constantly lobbying for higher taxes: government employees, who are paid by the taxpayer.


    March 3, 2011 at 12:15 pm

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