I think that unions did their job and then outlived their usefulness. Labor laws and OSHA allowed the government to ensure the protections once guarded by the unions, making them obsolete. They then fell prey to the same problem as every other sizable organization- where the reason for the organization becomes a distant secondary concern to the maintinence of the organization.
Of course, we know what happened next- corporate dominance and government deregulation began to strip away worker protections and leave us as in need of strong unions as ever.
So that leaves us… um, well, generally fucked. I forgot where I was going with this.
Right. I think there’s a future in non-union unions. I keep looking back to the Market Basket victory a couple years ago- Where what we had was essentially a union action without a union. Pretty much all the employees up to and including corporate management walked out and picketed until the ousted president was returned to his position.
Obviously, the big thing here is solidarity and commitment, but I think that’s also true of a union action. What excites me about this approach though, is the degree of power it delivers to the workers. With no organized union, no designated leaders, there is nobody to negotiate or compromise with. It becomes a binary proposition- Meet the demand, or stay shut down.
Imagine if something like this happened with say, all the Walmart stores in a particular state. The key is a simple, clear, and tangible goal- For MB it was restoring the old leadership, but for Walmart, it could be for example an across the board raise consistent with a $15 starting wage.