Organized Labor: Taking Us Down With Them

By January 26, 2008Labor Unions

Eugene Scalia, former general counsel in the Department of Labor, writing in the Wall Street Journal, “The New Labor Activism“:

By conventional measures, unions are in sharp decline: They represented 38% of the private sector workforce in 1956, but only 7.5% today. In an odd twist, though, labor unions are in a sense among our most influential business owners as a result of the billions of dollars invested in public companies by union pension funds.

In 2006, union funds accounted for more shareholder proposals than any other group of investors. Unions have been articulate voices in recent debates over executive compensation, “shareholder access” to the company proxy in director elections, and other governance issues. In the words of AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka, unions have learned to “organize our money essentially the way we organize workers.”

To which our ally-in-analogies, Seth Borden, observes:

Unions represented 38% of the workers in 1956, down to 7.5% of the workers today? Retirees counting on union pension benefits better hope and pray that Mr. Trumka misspoke when he claimed that the unions now “organize our money essentially the way we organize workers.”

It’s the coming thing, Seth. Bank on it…well, actually, don’t.

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