Oren Cass joins Brian Anderson to discuss labor unions, past and present, and to offer an alternative model for organized labor. This 10 Blocks episode is the third based on City Journal’s special issue, The Shape of Work to Come. The discussion draws on Oren's essay, 'More Perfect Unions.[
It isn’t crazy to think labor groups should focus on delivering benefits to workers instead of campaign contributions to politicians. Or to suggest employees in the modern economy have more to gain from collaboration with their bosses than from conflict. If Democrats and Republicans want robust civil society, competitive markets, widely shared prosperity, and a stronger safety net, they have more than enough reason to give organized labor—in a new form—a fresh look.
Democrats prize union bosses’ Midas-like ability to transform the dollars and energy of a bipartisan workforce into homogenous left-wing support. Thus, their response to plummeting union membership isn’t to promote substantive reform that might make organizing more attractive to workers but instead to push for procedural changes to help unions bring more workers into the existing system and ensure that donations keep flowing. Republicans seem content to frustrate such efforts and watch the system continue to wither. What a missed opportunity. Organized labor is neither inherently partisan nor inherently counterproductive economically.