James Rogers’ “prudential, conservative case” for labor unions (“Crony Capitalism & the Case for Labor Unions”) rests on certain assumptions that, upon scrutiny, turn out to be either untenable or illusory.
1. He posits that government-sector unions and “union activities outside of collective bargaining” are excluded from his theoretical defense of labor unions, yet the labor movement bridges the public-private sectors (the nation’s second-largest union, the SEIU, represents employees in both, as does the UAW and others), and since their inception private-sector unions have used compulsory dues for political purposes, spawning decades of litigation by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. I briefly summarize this body of litigation in The Independent Review article that Rogers mentions. From Railway Employees’ Dept. v. Hanson (1956) to Janus v. AFSCME (2018), labor unions have displayed an incorrigible drive to engage in political activities with monies extracted from employees as a condition of their employment. Rogers’ exclusion of these features from his theory ignores the ineluctable reality of more than a half-century of American labor relations.