Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A reservation

I always suspected that Andy Stern's preference for running unions like a business held great career possibilities for Andy Stern. That said, it would not surprise me in the least if it also held great career possibilities for the many Milorad "Rod" Blagojeviches of America -- and let's not forget their spouses! But if Stern is not yet the power broker he portends, millions of nurses and janitors might still have their pensions, Bernie Madoff's spectacular financial fraud notwithstanding.

Increasingly, I wonder if there isn't cause for concern when it comes political devices like "card check" -- the Employee Free Choice Act, which would streamline union certification -- when you've got these big-box union wholesalers like SEIU and the Teamsters dominating the American scene, "organizing" by any means necessary because they basically see themselves as a business -- the corollary being that they see their members as "customers."

This is a world apart from the kind of organizing undertaken by syndicalist unions like the IWW, who don't even aspire to government recognition and are explicitly opposed to proxy unionism -- and perhaps for this reason barely exist. But their approach is much safer; when people are accustomed to acting for themselves, they are less susceptible to becoming suckers to somebody else.

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