Friday, November 12, 2004

Questions, unionism articles

  1. I was intrigued by the extent to which Featherstone and Benner were willing to admit that unions have made their own bed. (Lucore, conversely, was all like, "Of course unions use IT! We're not backward! Really! [But those darn members, when they get together and talk, that's bad, you know...]") Are unions listening to this criticism? How are they changing because of it?

  2. From my undereducated perspective, it seems to me that unions clung to largely-male preserves as much as they possibly could, bypassing any employment territory that might contain (gasp!) women. To what extent is women's greater participation in the labor market relative to men a source of unions' membership attrition?

  3. Following Benner's analysis, what other new services could unions provide that would help their members and reduce membership attrition? (Dare one suggest HEALTH INSURANCE?)

1 comment:

Jeff Gibbens said...

Remember those large union pension funds--those have been the main social welfare program of traditional unions.

Unions have banded together to start their own credit unions; I know of a regional one in Southern Illinois patronized by Laborers' International members.

It really is up to government to provide affordable, if not free health care, is it not?

One suggestion in Geohegan's journalistic book from 1991 is that union members should have been encouraged to buy more shares in their companies; the counter to this would be working class culture as depicted in Metzgar's Striking Steel, where class conflict is palpable, and unionists would never work for their company if the jobs had not happened to be the only halfway decent ones available.

I sense a big discussion brewing on Monday; for the moment, I would agree that until more women today are convinced that unions have something to offer them, their position in the US is not going to improve. The history of women's participation (garment industry, radio assembly, et al.) in the labor movement is somewhat blurred by the history after the formation of the AFL-CIO in 1957. Pre-merger, pre-consensus CIO unions tended to be much more open to participation of women and minorities than the craft unions of the AFL, which had deep roots in the 19th century and operated much like fraternal organizations.