Will Bloom –
Advocates and scholars agree that the labor movement is in dire straits: shrinking union density, fewer successful elections, Trump appointees to the NLRB, and proliferating state free-rider laws all threaten labor’s power. Everyone knows that there’s a problem. The disagreement, however, is in the nature of the problem—and consequently, how to solve it.
I submit that, when we think about legislative interventions aimed at revitalizing the labor movement, we have to change the question from “How do we make it easier for unions to win recognition?” to “How do we make it easier for workers to organize?” Policymakers have long felt more comfortable focusing on the former question, brainstorming ways to help workers obtain legal recognition from a government agency, the NLRB. What they find more difficult is developing policies that help workers actually build those particularized, complex social relationships that underlie organizing and enable collective action. But legislation can empower workers and organizers in the most direct possible way: paying them to organize. Continue reading