Saturday, October 07, 2006

Bush's Philosophical Vendetta Against Unions

NY Times editors aren't too happy about the National Labor Board's Kentucky River decision to radically expand the definition of "supervisor," taking away the right to join unions for millions of nurses and others.

The Times recognizes the need to bar true managers from organizing,

But responsibilities like making out a schedule do not amount to management. If they did, interns would be the only non- managers in many of today’s workplaces.

Companies facing unionization drives have long found it convenient to discover that employees who are basically rank-and-file workers are actually managers. That seems to be the case with the nurses. The board’s decision opens the door for possibly millions of health-care workers and other professionals to be disqualified from the option of union protection.

This is one more step curbing the power of organized labor since President Bush came to office. The administration’s philosophical vendetta against unions has come at a time when their power is already on the wane. Membership has fallen to 7.8 percent of the private work force in this country, from over a third in the 1950’s. Far from balancing the scales, the anti-union drive comes when workers are already at a historic low in bargaining strength. Despite a growing economy and rising productivity, hourly wages adjusted for inflation have declined 2 percent since 2003. Corporate profits, meanwhile, are at their highest share of gross domestic product since the 1960’s.

We are getting closer and closer to a work force with no benefits and no substantive protections. Some unions succumbed to corruption and contributed to their own decline. But their role in giving common workers a voice is essential to a functioning society.