Objectivism and labor Unions

Piksmeat's picture
Submitted by Piksmeat on Tue, 2006-10-24 12:36

Do Objectivists join Labor Unions?

If so, is there a limit on how far an Objectivist can climb up the ladder of Union heirarchy?

If you join a union should be bound by Union democracy?

If the majority agree, after a ballot, to go out on strike would you respect that decision?
Or would you refuse to go on strike. And vice versa - if they voted against strike action and you disagreed would you be part of a wildcat strike?


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I have opted out of the

Piksmeat's picture

I have opted out of the political 'levy' so none of my dues go to the Labour Party

I've got better things to spend my money on.

I was just stating a fact about the Labour Party not being a party of socialism.

Linking the Obvious

RL0919's picture

It seems obvious enough to link to the online copy of Nathaniel Branden's old "Intellectual Ammunition Department" article on labor unions, from the days when he still wrote for The Objectivist Newsletter. To quote a key passage:

"Needless to say, men have a right to organize into unions, provided they do so voluntarily, that is, provided no one is forced to join. Unions can have value as fraternal organizations, or as a means of keeping members informed of current market conditions, or as a means of bargaining more effectively with employers -- particularly in small, isolated communities. It may happen that an individual employer is paying wages that, in the overall market context, are too low; in such a case, a strike or the threat of a strike, can compel him to change his policy, since he will discover that he cannot obtain an adequate labor force at the wages he offers. However, the belief that unions can cause a general rise in the standard of living, is a myth."

To more directly answer your questions, there is nothing wrong with an Objectivist (or anyone else) joining a union and rising as far within it as their talents allow, provided they do so for properly selfish reasons and do not subordinate their individualism in the process. Thus, for example, no individual should consider themselves "bound" by "Union democracy" (or any other organization's "democracy") but if they have strong disagreements with what the union does they might want to consider resigning from the organization.

--
Richard Lawrence
Visit the Objectivism Reference Center

"Piksmeat"

Chris Cathcart's picture

"Piksmeat," already I'm not trusting of your presence on SOLO given the apparent lifting of Gary Merrill's material for your ITOE posting. So I'm suspicious about whether you're putting forth any of your stuff here in good faith. You write:

Well, I'm in a union and I'm not part of any 'para-military' wing of socialism. Trade unions in the UK give funds to the Labour party

Already it strikes of bad faith for a labor union to be using its member's dues to support one political party over another.

which is not, nor has it ever been a party of socialism.

Case in point for why I can't trust the things you write here. In fact, I'd say you'd better fucking shape up before things get pretty ugly around here for you.

As for the car industry in the UK, I understand that the car manufacturers here want or wanted to deal with one union only. What they objected to was the situation where there were 57 different unions in each car plant. With each trying to get a better deal for their members than the others. Surely it's easier with just one union?

Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. That's a matter for the company and not for the government to decide, though, now innit.

BTW, I ask again: are you Gary Merrill? If not, then why did you fucking talk like him in the other thread?

("Yes you did, Brad. Yes you did. And Marcellus Wallace doesn't like to be fucked by anyone but Mrs. Wallace.")

Wages

Fred Weiss's picture

Well, with less than 15% of the US workforce in labor unions - and a high percentage of those working for gov't - one wonders how all the companies, including large ones, manage to "bargain pay raises" now. So, how do you think it's done?

Well, I'm in a union and I'm

Piksmeat's picture

Well, I'm in a union and I'm not part of any 'para-military' wing of socialism. Trade unions in the UK give funds to the Labour party which is not, nor has it ever been a party of socialism.

If you work in a large company, well, I can't imagine the management sitting down with each individual to bargain pay rises etc. All that would be done between the union(Drunk and manangement each year.

As for the car industry in the UK, I understand that the car manufacturers here want or wanted to deal with one union only. What they objected to was the situation where there were 57 different unions in each car plant. With each trying to get a better deal for their members than the others. Surely it's easier with just one union?

So Objectivist trade union

Piksmeat's picture

So Objectivist trade union members should not obey union democracy?

If so, that could mean crossing picket lines and wildcat strikes.

Wildcat strikes are illegal in the UK, I don't know what the situation is in the US concerning them.

But do Objectivists join trade uions?

It's probably best to make a

Ross Elliot's picture

It's probably best to make a distinction between unions as political machines--they're essentially the para-military wing of the socialists--and collective bargaining.

Fact is, sometimes, in certain industries, it makes sense for a group of employees to incorporate and make their case. So we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

If forming a union is/were

Chris Cathcart's picture

If forming a union is/were essentially about hiring representation for bargaining purposes, that just means a form of hiring out a specialist and would be legitimate and appropriate from the standpoint of any Objectivist/individualist. Unfortunately, I gather that labor unions as they're manifested at present aren't exactly about this . . . and probably why union membership has declined so dramatically. That's a natural consequence when labor unions as actually manifested are aimed at getting more money than what the workers' work is worth, which is a suicidal program for workers and made feasible (for a time) only by forcible, non-market interventions.

George Reisman laid out a pretty standard Objectivist perspective on the labor unions in a fairly recent article, placing the blame for auto industry woes squarely on the coercive union-government partnership. Unions, in and of themselves, are harmless, of course. They either have a role and survive on the free market, or they don't. About their only role that I see in such a case is as some kind of means of hiring bargaining representation. Either there's enough value in such to warrant the union dues, or there isn't.

Anyone willing to subjugate

Marnee's picture

Anyone willing to subjugate himself to that kind of collectivism and politics, giving up the power to control his own life, essentially, will get what he deserves when he gets nothing but downsized. Of course there are places where union membership is unavoidable. I can only feel sorry for these people. Such is the state of the world.

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