Tag Archives: Strikes

Eduardo Porter had a nice piece in the New York Times two days ago entitled “Unionizing the Bottom of the Pay Scale.” His article dovetails with my recent post here on how mainstream economics has little to say about the the problem of growing structural demand for low-skill service workers.

In Porter’s words:

“To improve the lives of American workers, most economists argue, we might do better by focusing on education to equip them with the skills to perform more productive, better-paid jobs.

But this argument overlooks the fact that the McJob is hardly a niche of the labor market reserved for the uneducated few. Rather, it might be the biggest job of our future.”

He goes on to note that “In countries where more than half of workers belong to a union, only 12 percent of jobs pay” low-wages.

For readers who have not been following this union drive, Steven Greenhouse also had a story on it last week, in which he quoted eminent labor sociologist Ruth Milkman on the problem of organizing such a transient workforce.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan, the only U.S. President who had also been a union president, fired 10,000 air traffic controllers. As Joseph McCartin argues in his new book Collision Course, “No strike in American history unfolded more visibly before the eyes of the American people or impressed itself more quickly and more deeply into the public consciousness of its time than the PATCO strike. No strike proved more costly to break. And no strike since the advent of the New Deal damaged the U.S. labor movement more” (pg. 300).    Read More