Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2021: Read It For Yourself

Andrew Donaldson

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home.

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68 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    While these events took place in Canada and not the US and so this law does not apply, I think that this is vaguely relevant to the topic:

    The “How it started, How it’s going” jokes write themselves.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    Looks like stuff is happening in the US too:

    Here’s the official announcement:

    I don’t know what percentage of US Huffpo writers are unionized but I’ve seen a handful of (non-authoritative) twitter accounts say that it’s most of them.Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      If they are unionized and then fired after collective bargaining? That’s generally an actionable labor law violation.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Philip H
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        says:

        It could be that.
        Or it could just be that Huffpo didn’t have a viable path to prosperity which is why it was acquired and downsized.

        Because we don’t know if the writers were being paid above market levels, or if it was payroll that made it uncompetitive or even if it was anything to do with profitability. It could just be that the new management decided to take it in a new direction.Report

        • Avatar Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels
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          says:

          thats fine, but collective bargaining agreements usually account for stuff like that. Firing unionized workers is a lot tougher then at will workers.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Philip H
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            says:

            Freedom to unionize doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.Report

            • Avatar Phili H in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              I’m not suggesting it does. Only that firing unionized employees is not something you do just cause you want to. There are legal requirements for notice and bargaining and all sorts of other things. If HuffPo didn’t do any of that its gonna cost them, no matter how “right” their position is financially.Report

  3. Avatar Chip Daniels
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    says:

    And now for something actually on tpoic:
    Amazon fights aggressively to defeat union drive in Alabama, fearing a coming wave
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/03/09/amazon-union-bessemer-history/

    This part made me chuckle:
    Amazon sees unionization as a threat to its ability to bring technical innovations to its warehouses that reduce reliance on workers, such as robots, one of the former executives who discussed management thinking about unions said.

    So Amazon is worried that workers bargaining collectively may reduce their ability to replace those workers with robots.Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels
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      says:

      Clearly in the Amazon model those workers jobs are in jeopardy either way. Unionizing will slow it down but it won’t stop it. Robots are too cheap long term.

      And our society and economy are not ready for that. At all.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Philip H
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        says:

        I keep yammering this point, that every single person is competing with some combination of software and hardware.

        It doesn’t matter what your job is or what your skillset is. Somewhere out there is a machine or algorithm that can perform the value-adding tasks that you do. The cost of that replacement machine sets an absolute ceiling on what wage you can negotiate for.

        The traditional response was to wank about the Lump of Labor Fallacy. But all that really says is that the demand created by cheaper goods outstrips the supply of labor, driving labor prices higher.
        But there isn’t any iron law that says this must always be so.

        And in fact, the supply of many consumer goods such as garments and electronics has outstripped even our most wildly acquisitive ability to consume them and the wages of those who produce them continues to drop.

        Global trade has obscured this, by letting lower wage parts of the world participate, and give the illusion that wages are rising for example, where a person in China works for a sub-American wage yet is comparatively rich by their former standards.

        But the real wage has in fact dropped.

        Its easier to see if you look at a map over time, and map out where a garment worker can live on their income.

        In 1900 garment workers in many parts of America could support themselves. Over time, the map shifted from the Northeast to the Southeast, then disappeared entirely from America to Mexico, then China and then receding into the more impoverished parts of the global South.

        First Worlders consume clothing in staggering quantities to where even beggars have more clothes than they can wear.
        And yet, there is virtually no part of the First World where a garment worker wage can support a person.

        The same holds true for agriculture workers, most assembly line workers. The only reason we have any humans picking fruit or slaughtering pigs is that we import workers from impoverished areas. If that were to stop, a machine would do it for less than any First World worker could.

        And as you say, our society and economy are not ready for this, at all.Report

        • Avatar Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels
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          says:

          Yes we keep debating this, and the conservatives and libertarians keep telling you and me we are oh so wrong. Darn that pesky dataReport

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels
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          says:

          Somewhere out there is a machine or algorithm that can perform the value-adding tasks that you do. The cost of that replacement machine sets an absolute ceiling on what wage you can negotiate for.

          Not true, yet. However, it becomes more true as time progresses. Perhaps we will someday hit a singularity on that, but it’s still some time away.

          That said, where this is true now is the low skill, repetitive, high risk work. The risk is not necessarily acute, like danger from construction accidents. It can be chronic (repetitive strain/stress injuries, exposure to harmful chemicals, etc.). Addressing that risk increases the cost of human labor. In places like Mexico or China, they don’t really address the risk. In the US, they do.

          All that said, our economy is not ready for automation precisely because there is a persistent strain of conservatism across the political divide that wants to pretend that we can have it all, just like we did 60 years ago when automation was still the stuff of Science Fiction. That we can step out of primary school and earn a living wage.

          That nostalgia needs to die. It needs to die because it’s no longer representative of reality, and because it allows people to pretend that we don’t need something like expanded public funding for education past the HS diploma, or a UBI.Report

          • Avatar Philip H in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            says:

            That nostalgia needs to die. It needs to die because it’s no longer representative of reality, and because it allows people to pretend that we don’t need something like expanded public funding for education past the HS diploma, or a UBI.

            That nostalgia also why so many people see black and brown people as a threat economically, and thus why bombastic populists have taken over the GOP.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            says:

            The chief value of traditional cognitive work like law, medicine and engineering is exactly the left brained logical tasks perfectly suited for algorithms.

            Much of what doctors, lawyers and engineers do, even now, is act as a “machine tender” where the machine performs massively complex calculations and the human merely selects the inputs and assesses the outputs.

            Not in some distant future, but right now.

            The value that the human adds is the component of the job that is shrinking.
            The machine calculations for a new automobile braking assembly have grown and become more complex;
            But the human skill required to design and model the system has dropped.

            This is after all, the whole selling point of technology; That with the new software, you can have a person with less experience, less education, less knowledge produce work that previously could only be done by a senior worker.

            The scenario isn’t that we will have massive crowds of people standing around idle. Its that the market for human labor will grow increasingly dominated by low value machine tending tasks.

            We won’t stop having human doctors, lawyers and engineers. But they will be low wage, low skilled tasks that almost anyone can perform.Report

  4. Avatar CJColucci
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    says:

    Quite apart from the merits of the legislation, I hope people have read the text. If they have, they’ll see that complaints that “legislators haven’t read the bill” are usually stupid. No one can read this 34-page bill and say what it changes or whether it is a good idea without comparing it clause-by-clause with the several existing labor laws it amends. And there is no reason any legislator ought to do even that. The staff has done that work and prepared a report explaining the changes. The staff can be trusted to get that right, and can answer any questions any legislator has that the report doesn’t answer. That’s how it works and how it should work.
    At least if Ron Johnson insists that the bill be read, it shouldn’t waste more than about an hour.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to CJColucci
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      says:

      So what you’re saying here is that we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it?Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to CJColucci
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      says:

      We live in an era where it shouldn’t be technically difficult to make it easy to see these changes in context. It’s basically a patch. Why not put the USC in a public Git repository and publish proposed laws as merge requests?Report

      • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Brandon Berg
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        says:

        That may be possible, but there’s no need for it. The time spent on reading a red-lined version of the relevant statutes rather than an expert summary would be largely wasted, and better spent on other things.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to CJColucci
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          says:

          It says a lot about you that you, that even as a bar-accredited lawyer you still have this idea that reading words is a hardship.

          God help your clients, I suppose. I really hope you never have to handle a criminal defense; that poor bastard’s gonna get the chair!Report

          • Avatar CJColucci in reply to DensityDuck
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            says:

            Have you ever spent significant time reading a complicated federal statute? Or have you asked a lawyer to do it and explain to you, maybe in a memo written in something more or less like English? That’s what you pay us for. My clients would feel ill-served if I handed them statutes and regulations and said: “You’re on your own.” And so would you.Report

            • Avatar JS in reply to CJColucci
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              says:

              I wonder what the overlap is between people who complain that too many Congressmen are lawyers and people who demand all the bills be read aloud is.

              As noted, you can’t understand many bills from just their text if you’re not an expert in that particular field of law (because many bills are, as you noted, a bunch of changes to existing law, and the existing law isn’t part of the bill).

              If you want a third overlap, those insisting on term limits (after all, if you don’t want legal experts writing your laws, clearly letting them gain expertise is a non-starter as well).

              For a fourth, those who complain lobbyists write all the bills…Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to JS
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                says:

                That would be good to know. My guess is that the overlap is considerable, because coherent views are rare.Report

              • Avatar JS in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                Their viewpoint actually is fairly coherent, it’s just not workable.

                “laws should be written in plain English that anyone can understand” and “government’s actions should be easily understood” is certainly understandable and coherent,

                The problem is reality is against it. For starters, government is complex. Complex systems can be understood — but only if you’re either an expert in the system, or you’re willing to settle for a “For Dummies” explanation that leaves out a lot of nuance.

                Writing laws in plain, simple English is an understandable wish. But laws are written in complex legal jargon for the same reason corporate contracts are — because “plain simple English” isn’t sufficient to deal with people who will cheerfully drive right through the loopholes plain English leaves.

                In the end, the viewpoint is coherent: “WHY CAN’T THIS BE SIMPLE” is a very understandable complaint. The problem is, of course, neither government nor reality CAN be simple. We live in a complex world of complex systems.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to JS
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                says:

                Why is plain English insufficient to prevent truck drivers? Is it simply a case of certain legal terms having sufficient definitional baggage that one can say a lot by saying very little?

                I mean, I can understand that.

                What irks me is when the logic is a trick to follow. Like trying to follow the source code written by a guy who figured he was clever and did all manner of things to make his code compact to point of un-readability, or whose logic would jump around constantly, so conditional statements were often obtuse as to what they were actually checking for.

                There is a movement in development called Clean Code, that strives to convince developers to leave the clever stuff to compilers, and instead focus on writing code that other people can read and maintain. I often feel like we need that for legislation.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                An oft-repeated true-ism is that technical legalese is used because every phrase has been through court repeatedly so the lawyers know exactly what it means.

                Well, mostly. In the Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA, there are at least three opinions written up about what the word “anyway” means.Report

              • Avatar JS in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                “Why is plain English insufficient to prevent truck drivers?”

                Contracts can be summed up as “First, here is the basic gist of what we’re agreeing to. The spirt of the thing. And now here are 460 pages of legalize describing every way some jerk has tried to violate the spirit of this agreement in order to screw us and enrich himself”.

                English is not sufficiently precise enough to prevent people from playing word games with it. If everyone was acting in good faith and adhering to the spirit of a law or contract, sure. That’d be sufficient.

                Instead, laws — and private contracts, and everything else you use legalize for — is basically the equivalent of using a Wish spell from D&D. Someone, somewhere, is going to try their hardest to monkey’s paw that thing.

                And since “spirit of the agreement” boils down to what people SAY they thought it was — and people like to lie — you can’t really enforce it fairly. Did Bob and Timmy really agree on what Tim says? Or what Bob says? The language can be twisted to support each one.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to JS
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                says:

                First off, you pair of comments are much appreciated, thank you.

                Second, legalize still seems to be a very imperfect language for expressing laws and terms of agreement.

                Or perhaps it isn’t, perhaps it really is the best we can do, and the problem is more that those who craft with legalize are closer to my former co-worker, and not to people who practice Clean Code.

                What we need is a legal refactoring.Report

              • Avatar JS in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                I meant “legaleze” or however you spell the word for “The specific and exacting language, definitions, and context of words used in law — whether writing, enforcing, or arguing over”.

                Legalize is, of course, something else entirely. πŸ™‚Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to JS
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                says:

                Err… yes, it is.

                Me no spell so gooder.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to JS
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                says:

                Just to expand a bit, back when I started my current job, we had a developer who would write complicated, compact code. When the rest of us complained about how unreadable that code was, and how much time we had to spend unpacking it, their response was that we were clearly not ‘real’ developers and should just quit.

                That person was fired.Report

              • Avatar JS in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                Coding is rigid, exacting mathematics. Formal, defined syntax to drive mathematical operations. (I do it for a living).

                It is as unlike English — or any other spoken or written natural language — as you can get.

                Legalize is an attempt to make English have SOME of the structure and rigidity of even the most fluid programming language, so that when you say something, everyone ‘compiles’ it the same way and it executes the same way. No room for interpretation, no room for argument — it works the same for everyone that runs it.

                Whereas, again, we’ve had two centuries of argumentation over the word “person” in our horribly loose and open-to-interpretation Constitution and it’s not like it’s because we have AI running around and we want to know if they count.

                (Worth noting: It’s a heck of a lot easier to determine if something is ‘burglary’ or ‘robbery’ than it is to determine what exactly the Second Amendment means. Because one’s written in legalize, and the other is massively imprecise regular English that we have to diving meanings from entrails about)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to JS
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                says:

                The complaint that the laws are not written by the representatives has some merit, I think.

                I suppose we could argue that we’re voting for people to pick which lobbyists will write the laws but that seems…

                Well, it’s the current year. The founders could not have foreseen the amount of complexity that exists in the sheer number of laws that we have.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                In Colorado, very few bills are written by lobbyists. One part of that is every bill must be reviewed by Legislative Legal Services (permanent non-partisan staff, expert in the state’s statutes) before it is introduced. At some point in the process, every bill except two categories will have an LLS analysis attached to it.

                (The two exceptions are the Long Bill, which is the annual budget bill, and the supplemental budget bills, one per department as needed. For those, the budget staff writes the analysis.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain
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                says:

                That seems like a good way to do it.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to JS
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                says:

                You’re starting to understand why “first thing we’ll do is, we’ll kill all the lawyers” was a line from the villain.Report

            • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to CJColucci
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              says:

              Is there such a thing as a non-complicated federal statute? My experience having to pretend to be a lawyer was at the state level. When some of my former technical colleagues asked, I always told them that the Colorado Revised Statutes should be regarded as a single program: it told you what you must do, what you couldn’t do, and how to do or not do all of those things. And after a hundred and some years, the resulting linkages, references, and general kruft that had accumulated made the worst spaghetti code I’d ever seen look good.

              And I had it easy: I was generally just tracing conditional cash flows.

              Oh, and from time to time the courts changed the meaning of some of the instructions.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Michael Cain
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                says:

                Is there such a thing as a non-complicated federal statute?

                As our lawyer friends would say, it depends. Many of the oft ballyhooed environmental laws passed in the 1970’s were fairly straightforward, but got muddied over the decades in reauthorizations, and agency rule making, as well as in response to litigation. Environmental Impact statements written in the late 70’s under NEPA used to be 10-15 pages per project (regardless of size). Now to account for legal opinions and almost 5 decades of revisions they run 1000’s of pages.

                Want another example – look at federal court cases for what “Best available science” means under the Endangered Species Act or Manguson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act. I dare you.Report

              • Avatar JS in reply to Philip H
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                I’d bet money that the ballooning of requirements and regulations stemmed mostly from people trying to find technicalities to exploit.

                You’d think “You’re not allowed to dump stuff into rivers and streams and watersheds that harms the environment or other people” is fairly clear. Until there’s millions of dollars in finding ways to claim that it doesn’t REALLY harm anything.

                My Dad was union for a number of years, and between him and some of the older guys in the union, I got to hear more than a few stories about why unions often had such arcane requirements in their contracts — the one that sticks out is “not my job”.

                “If I do that, I’m taking someone else’s job” is pretty straight forward, until you get cases of someone refusing to do even a simple, safe, two minute task. Of course once you hear stories of the time management tried to get everyone to do a few minutes of janitorial work every day so they could fire both janitors, you can kind of see why they bright line it.

                Of course, I thought that was relegated to the past until the Great Recession, where I read about a bank chain that tried to get it’s workers to ‘adopt’ individual ATMs — have them tend to it (landscaping, cleaning, etc) so they could fire the company currently maintaining it and save themselves money.

                In a company that employees a hundred people, if you can get 10 minutes of unpaid labor a day out of even half of them — that’s a lot of money.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to JS
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                says:

                It’s when you hit the proverbial*, “You have to get a Union Electrician over here to plug this projector into the wall socket” that I start wondering WTF?

                *I have no idea if that was ever an actual term in a Union contract, or if it is just Urban Legend. But I do seem to recall, when I worked for the University, that facilities would get ticked off at me if did stuff like run conduit from the wall plug to the lab desks. I was allowed to plug a power strip into the wall, but if I put it in conduit, they had to do that.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                Oh its a thing. I know of a large, nationally recognized model railroad show in the midwest that, pre-covid, was having a hard time attracting small vendors and clubs to exhibit portable layouts because the venue they used REQUIRED all loading and unloading to be done by the venue’s union staff. Since load up was done on Sunday evenings it was a time and a half premium job.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                Many years ago, I had to manage the transfer of a dozen-person lab from one building to another. The destination building was still under construction and the electrical work was being done by unionized workers. Things started with literally “If you move a piece of equipment a union electrician will have to unplug and plug it back in.” When they discovered how much hassle that was, it became “You can do the unplugging and plugging but you have to be supervised by a union electrician,” and eventually to, “There has to be a union member in the room; an apprentice doing homework at a desk counts, especially if you’ll help him with the math when he gets stuck.”Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                So not an Urban Legend…Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to JS
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                says:

                If you take 10 minutes every day to poop at work, that ends up being a week’s vacation after a year.

                “Boss makes a dollar, I make a dime…”Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    Speaking of Organization, it appears that Kroger is engaging in a Capital Strike.

    Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Indeed they are. And somehow that’s ok to the capitalists and conservatives among us but a higher minimum wage is not.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H
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        says:

        Are the stores really under-performing? If so, then a bump in wages could push the store into the red and make it no longer viable. How many businesses closed because no one came into the place due to COVID? Are we angry at those places for closing down? No one batted an eye when two clothing shops near me closed down, both stores for larger brands, because the foot traffic evaporated.

        The only reason you are pissed is because this is seen as a middle finger to the wage hike. And perhaps it is, but that it can also be a simple economic reality. Both things can be true.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
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          says:

          Are the stores really under-performing?

          This is an interesting question.

          If they are, then what? Some will point to Kroger’s national numbers at this point.
          If they aren’t, then what?

          What is Kroger’s obligation to its workers and its community here?

          “Solidarity” is one of the things that has been decoupled from corporations in the modern era. Solidarity with money and nothing else.Report

        • Avatar Philip H in reply to Oscar Gordon
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          says:

          I would argue the stores are probably not under performing.

          The chain certainly made money:

          Profits soared an average of 39% in the first half of the year at supermarket chains and other food retailers, thanks to the pandemic, although front-line workers reaped little or no benefit, a new report shows.

          At Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., which has 119 stores in Michigan, profits for the first two quarters were up a staggering 90%, according to the report from the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

          “We find that while top retail companies’ profits have soared during the pandemic, pay for their front-line workers β€” in most cases β€” has not,” the report said.

          https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2020/12/04/kroger-walmart-amazon-profits-covid-19-pandemic/6458910002/

          “As a result of our continued strong performance, market share growth and the expectation of sustained trends in food at home consumption for the remainder of our fiscal year, we are raising our full year 2020 guidance,” CFO Gary Millerchip said during an earnings call. “Looking toward 2021, we believe that our performance will be stronger than we would have expected prior to the pandemic when viewed as a two-year stacked result for identical sales without fuel growth and as a compounded growth rate over 2020 and 2021 for adjusted earnings per share growth.”

          Kroger now anticipates full-year adjusted EPS will total $3.30 to $3.35, and the retailer sees same-store sales rising about 14%.

          https://progressivegrocer.com/sales-wane-still-strong-kroger-q3Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H
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            says:

            Those individual stores could still head into the red if wages went up $5. That said, one could argue that the corporation can easily afford to prop those stores up until the end of the pandemic, and Kroger is giving CA a middle finger for it the increase in costs.

            Which all things being equal, is fine. There is no legal principle, or ethical or moral one, that says corporations have to lay down and take whatever costs a legislature decides to impose upon them. They are perfectly within their rights to hit back in whatever manner is available to them. Just as a Union would be within their rights to hit back a Kroger for the closures.

            Actions have consequences.

            Thing is, the legislature just imposed a cost without giving the stores anything in return. The store has to either eat the cost, which will anger shareholders, or raise prices, which will anger customers. Perhaps if the legislature had offered a tax break on stores that implemented “hero pay”, we’d see less of this.Report

            • Avatar Philip H in reply to Oscar Gordon
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              says:

              If, corporation wide, they are reporting same store sales up 14% they can afford to meet the hero pay requirement and still meet shareholder dividend expectations. I don’t think a tax beak would do anything either. Remember, before the Trump tax cuts in 2017 CEOs told the world they would buy back stock, not raise wages or innovate. And lo and behold they bought back stock and didn’t innovate, or raise wages, or refund pensions.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H
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                says:

                Are we talking about Kroger, or Corporate America?

                Here’s a thought. Why is Hero pay limited to grocery store workers? Did first responders, or medical facility employees get Hero Pay?

                How is this not an attempt at a side door minimum wage hike where the politicians get to avoid the political capital cost of doing that?Report

  6. Avatar Marchmaine
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    says:

    Meh, fighting 19th century problems with 20th century means. Fighting over wages isn’t even the right fight. This is one area where the Left is so behind the times as to be functionally useless.Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to Marchmaine
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      What other fight would you have us fight? We are mostly in on UBI, which we will need to stave off the “benefits” of increasing automation. There’s not much else left.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Philip H
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        Equity.

        Management has moved out of Wage compensation into Equity compensation… Labor has to move as well.

        UBI has some possible benefits, but it won’t do what people think it will do vis-a-vis Labor’s compensation for both increasing productivity and lost compensation owing to automation. My optimistic take is that it opens up some space for other de-coupling events, but my pessimistic take is that UBI quickly becomes Guaranteed Jobs… which softly elides into a sort of wage-slavery. All with the best intentions, of course.

        Basically, collective bargaining is too little too late… we need to re-open corporate charters and renegotiate the fundamental compact to both preserve ‘capitalism’ and rebalance/restructure the distribution of productivity gains.

        Further, my meta-critique is that debating minimum wage is *exactly* the debate capital wants to have… we’re debating a marginal, fixed, labor tax… that’s conceding the game from the start; it could be justified on grounds that it needs updating/indexing… fine… but it isn’t a ‘win’ in terms of fixing the long-term structural issues.

        I’ll take the hit on, “hey, these are the current pathways open to us” but the absence of updated policy objectives, coupled with a doubling down on 1970’s social democracy makes me despair the paucity of thought on the left.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Marchmaine
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          says:

          See my comment above on shareholders vs stakeholders. If every employee held some manner of equity in the corporation, they would be shareholders, hence management would have a duty to them.

          Then the Union could focus on negotiating how many shares the union would effectively control.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            Right… would change all sorts of calculi. Not sure I’d categorize it as ‘union control’ of the shares… but I wouldn’t have a problem with organized factions of labor supporting different (or the same) Board Members and/or policies.

            And that’s just one structural change that would alter the dynamic while preserving (or even enhancing) many of the strengths of corporations.Report

            • Avatar Philip H in reply to Marchmaine
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              I don’t see a way to wrest equity in meaningful ways from the corporate power structure. They have moved from their prior stance that fiduciary responsibility meant stable profits and manageable growth with a well compensated labor force (including pensions and stock in many cases) to maximizing core short term profits at all costs, including said pensions and labor – and all without major regulatory changes driving them.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H
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                says:

                I don’t think you could wrest it away.

                You’d have to incentivize it, and perhaps get business schools to start teaching about the values of equity sharing with the workforce.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                we don’t have that kind of time.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H
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                says:

                Then it won’t happen.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                The ways are fairly simple; the will is very much not there.

                Corporate charters are what we grant them in law; we can define and re-define the rules of the game as needed; creating 30% (say) equity stake for Labor and the concomitant rules governing the nature and relationship of that stake to the 70% capital stake is just another step in the evolution of the regulations we already have for corporations and share distribution.

                This happens all the time, too… it would be a re-pricing event where new stakeholders are dealt into the structure; a dilution of existing capital… and I don’t mean to pooh-pooh the impact or the challenges and concerns we’d need to account for – especially if done all at once (not necessarily what I’d advocate for) in some sort of big bang. But the fundamental idea that dilution and expansion of equity holders take place against the wishes of some factions of shareholders is simply commonplace.

                Part of the necessary ‘sell-job’ would be emphasizing the projected gains of this infusion of ‘sweat capital’ to productivity and ‘shareholder value.’ Ultimately it’s an expansion of the pie, not a tax/redistribution scheme.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine
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          says:

          My spin on this:

          The earth’s natural resources belong to all;
          Private ownership of the means of production is a utilitarian device which spurs the creation of wealth.
          That is, we only assign exclusive rights to harvest timber to a single entity because this yields a desired result, not because there is some cosmic right to it.

          But as machines increasingly perform the labor of harvesting resources and converting them into wealth, we should rightfully renegotiate the assignment of property.

          For example, what if all forest lands were held in common, and the harvesting of timber and conversion into lumber was performed by machines which were owned in common?

          Which is another way of asking what I did upthread, “What is the value being added by the human in this supply chain”?

          Except here, the question is, “What value is being added by the entrepreneur in this supply chain?”Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels
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            says:

            There are no supply chains in the state of nature.

            Slightly more seriously… the thing modern Distributist economics is trying to preserve is the incentive for doing the thing well; it recognizes that most things without proper incentives will be done poorly; let us work on (re-)aligning incentives so that things are done well and the incentives allocate the rewards more broadly such that things will be done even weller… and so forth in a virtuous circle to utopia (alright, I’ll stop now).

            I applaud the bold leftist thinking; I’d like to see more… but I’m not sure unreconstructed Rousseau is better than unreconstructed 70’s Social Democracy.Report

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