by Denis Drew
Neither rust-belt Americans nor Chicago gang-bangers are interested in up-to-date kitchens or two vans in the driveway. Both are most especially not interested in $10 an hour jobs.
Both would be very, very especially interested in $20 an hour jobs.
80 years ago Congress forgot to put criminal enforcement in the NLRA(a). Had union busting been a felony all along we would be like Germany today. Maybe at some point our progressives might note that collective bargaining is the T-Rex in the room — or the missing T-Rex.
The money is there for $20 jobs. 49 years — and half the per capita income ago — the fed min wage was $11. Since then the bottom 45% went from 20% overall income share to 10% — while the top 1% went from 10% to 20%.
How to get it — how to get collective bargaining set up? States can make union busting a felony without worrying about so-called federal preemption:
+ a state law sanctioning wholesalers, for instance, using market power to block small retail establishments from combining their bargaining power could be the same one that makes union busting a felony — overlap like min wage laws — especially since on crim penalties the fed has left nothing to overlap since 1935
+ First Amendment right to collectively bargain cannot be forced by the fed down (the current) impassable road. Double ditto for FedEx employees who have to hurdle the whole-nation-at-once certification election barrier
+ for contrast, examples of state infringement on federal preemption might be a state finding of union busting leading to a mandate for an election under the fed setup — or any state certification setup for labor already covered by NLRA(a) or RLA(a). (Okay for excluded farm workers.)
Collective bargaining would ameliorate much competition for jobs from immigrants because labor’s price would be set by how much the consumer can be squeezed before (s)he goes somewhere else — not by how little the most desperate worker will hire on for. Your kid will be grabbed before somebody still mastering English.
Centralized bargaining (sector wide labor agreements) practiced by the Teamster’s National Master Freight Agreement — also by French Canada, continental Europe and I think Argentina and Indonesia — blocks the Walmart-killing-supermarket-contracts race to the bottom. Airline employees would kill for centralized too.
Republicans would have no place to hide — rehabs US labor market — all (truly) free market.
Truly populist up politics in the long run reduce financialization, for-profit scams, pharma gouging, etc. etc., etc. Dean of Washington press corps said when he came to Washington (1950s?) all the lobbyists were union.
PS. After I explained the American spinning wheels labor market to my late brother John (we were not even talking about race), he came back with: “Martin Luther King got his people on the up escalator just in time for it to start going down for everybody.”