Today’s News and Commentary — September 11
Coverage continues of the AFL-CIO’s convention in Los Angeles, which will conclude today. Yesterday, the convention re-elected Richard Trumka as the federation’s president and Liz Shuler as its secretary treasurer, and newly elected Tefere Gebre as executive vice president, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog reports, writing that the “slate reflects the federation’s plan to look to young workers and immigrants to help reverse a trend of declining membership.” Opinion Writer Harold Meyerson describes in the Washington Post how this year’s convention has reflected both a shift in whom unions seek to include among their ranks, as well as a strategic shift in how the federation seeks to advance workers’ interests.
In other domestic news, the Associated Press reports that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has dropped his objections to being deposed by union lawyers regarding his decision to let Detroit file for bankruptcy. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents workers at Detroit City Hall, argues that Detroit is not eligible to file for Chapter 9 protections.
A strike by trash collectors continues today in Maryland, and the Washington Post reports that a striking trash collector was struck by a garbage truck being driven by a temporary worker. The striking worker was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The Washington Post also reported that the mayor of Washington, D.C., local labor leaders, and investors in the soccer team D.C United announced a deal that would require mostly union labor to build a new soccer stadium. The agreement contains a no-strike provision and, under a provision of the city’s First Source program, will also require the hiring of D.C. residents.
The New York Times Economix blog features a post today by University of Chicago Professor Casey B. Mulligan, who examines the relationship between the ‘Coase Theorem’ and labor unions. Mulligan argues that economic analysis of unions does not neatly fit into “conservative” or “liberal” labels, but rather, the relevant difference in economic approaches is one of “monopoly” versus “bargaining.” Through the logic of the Coase theorem, in which “the legal assignment of property rights might not be that important for determining how resources are used in the economy,” Mulligan observes that “the reassignment of ownership of some production processes and decisions from owners and management to workers … should not significantly change how businesses are run.” Through bargaining, he notes, “unions would achieve efficient outcomes by bargaining over many aspects of the employment relationship, not just salaries.”
Over in Europe, the Associated Press reports that thousands of Polish labor union members marched in Warsaw on Wednesday, protesting “against government labor policy and pension system reform and to demand higher pay.” This was the first of four days of protests in the city planed by a coalition of unions.