Thursday, October 22, 2009

Estreicher on the Future of American Trade Unionism

Estreicher Sam Estreicher (NYU) has released his article, "Trade Unionism Under Globalization:  The Demise of Voluntarism?" [Download Estreicher Article], which will be published in the St. Louis University Law Reviews "Competition in the Global Workplace:  The Role of Economic Markets" symposium issue.  His thesis:

We are now beginning to see a qualitative change in labor’s relationship to the state: trade unionism as a supplement to politics. Labor’s economic objectives have not changed; the means are undergoing change. The thesis of this paper is that largely in response to the deepening of competitive forces in private markets in the U.S. – from deregulation, changing technology and the opening up of global labor and product markets (due to decreasing transportation and communication costs and the lowering of trade barriers) -- organized labor increasingly will function predominantly as a political organization. Collective bargaining will continue to provide an institutional raison d’etre and critical funding source for unions but only one (and a diminishing one) of several means for advancing the interests of its members and other constituencies. This is not to suggest the emergence of a labor party on the European model; it is an American variant: the fortunes of the labor movement will become ever more tightly tied to the fortunes of the Democratic Party and economic goals increasingly will be achieved not at the bargaining table but through the provision of public resources.

I saw Sam present an early version of this piece at the SLU symposium and it's very interesting, so definitely check it out.

-JH

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