Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Alert reader D on the SEIU chief Andy Stern's defense of "card check" in a bloggingheads discussion with Robert Reich:
His substantive problem is that he assumes the conclusion, which is that workers need and want unions. Anything that interferes with that is therefore by definition wrong and is contrary to their will or at least to their best interests. If workers vote a union down it must be because they were intimidated, because a negative vote like that would be like a man voting against eating. It would be unnatural and open to suspicion. Stern could not stand up to a good interviewer for five minutes. Even Reich knew he was not responding to the question and was unconvincing - which is saying plenty.
One of the good things about bloggingheads is that if you can't make your case there you can't make it anywhere. You have the time, you have a non-disrespectful, non-cross-examining interlocutor, you're in familiar surroundings and don't have distractions.
In the process Stern dances around the issue of taking away the secret ballot, saying the issue is "whose choice about how to form the organization is this, the employers or the workers." No, the issue is how do you determine what the workers' choice is. If Stern wants to have a secret ballot about whether to have a secret ballot, then he'd be amending the labor law to give workers the choice he says he wants to give them. (Maybe that's not a bad compromise.) ...
P.S.: A common tactic of card check proponents is to say that opponents aren't really against the elimination of the secret ballot, they are really against unions. Hey, why can't I be against both? There are two legit issues here: democratic principle and whether more American-style unionization is the answer to our economy's problems. Yes, if there were a procedurally fair reform that promised to dramatically increase the unionization rate, I'd have a more difficult choice. But this isn't that case. I'm willing to bet that a) workers who vote anonymously, free of the collective social pressure that can come with public voting, will rationally decide, often enough, that the drawbacks of unionization (in terms of the adversarialization of the workplace, lost productivity, and winding up like Detroit) outweigh the benefits, and b) workers who do decide to unionize their companies will find those companies losing out in the marketplace and shrinking (as has been the case, most conspicuously, with Detroit). ... Bet (a), at least, is a bet Stern obviously doesn't want to take--even though in the bhTV interview Reich is clearly, if timidly, trying to push him in the direction of a package of reforms aimed at curbing employer "coercion" rather than ending the secret ballot. ... 7:54 P.M.
Monday, December 22, 2008
The "Community" Strikes Back: Matt Yglesias is kidding either himself or us when he claims that he won't self-censor just because Jennifer Palmieri, "Acting CEO" of the outfit he blogs for (the "Center for American Progess Action Fund") commandeered his site ** to post a disclaimer in BS-ese after Yglesias criticized a CAP ally. He writes:
Under the circumstances, it’s better for me, better for CAP and CAPAF, and better for everyone to understand that I’m writing as an individual not as the voice of the institution. Pointing that fact out isn’t contrary to me having an independent voice, it’s integral to having one. ...[snip] ... My role is to say what I think on the blog; that’s what I’ve always done and will keep doing.
No. Next time Yglesias wants to write something that might alienate one of CAP's numerous friends, he has to ask himself a) do I want Jennifer Palmieri to come squat on my blog again , and b) even if she doesn't, do I want the hassle of arguing with her or my bosses to prevent them from acting to ... er, "clarify" the situation in some other way? That has to tip the scales slightly--and, if my experience is any indication, more than slightly--in favor of pulling your punches and avoiding the hassle. ... Keep in mind, Palmieri didn't intervene because what Yglesias said was wrong--factually or logically---but rather simply because what he said differed from the position of the "institution." Why doesn't she get her own blog? ...
This is all hugely embarrassing for CAP . Palmieri, last seen helping John Edwards lie , owes Yglesias a published apology. I would think Yglesias could and should insist on it--he was a prestige acquisition for CAP, and it would damage them if he left. As things stand, he's been semi-emasculated.
P.S.: Is the group Third Way's "domestic policy agenda" really " hyper-timid incrementalist bullshit "? America wants to know! Or it does now! Isn't the first rule of flackery don't issue a denial that just gives more publicity to the charge you are denying? ...
**-- I should not have said "commandeered." I regret the error. CAP is a key leader in the progressive movement. I look forward to working with them in the future. What I meant to say is that Yglesias "allowed Palmieri an opportunity to issue a different opinion." Our fraternal Soviet comrades are welcome in Prague anytime! ... [ via Insta ] 9:58 P.M.