Tucci78 on June 06, 2012, 05:48:01 am
...the arrival of organized labor willing to bust head and get shot for their troubles...

Which I suppose you assume will just evaporate under AnCap? I, and probably most of the AnCaps here, support organized labor and collective bargaining.

What the hell d'you mean by "...probably most of the AnCaps here, support organized labor and collective bargaining," Kemo Sabe?  

I sure don't, and my only proximal lifetime encounters with "organized labor and collective bargaining" were as a member of a union in a closed shop in summer manufacturing jobs I held as a college student.

My life-lesson from that experience is that unions chiefly act to protect and promote mediocrity and laziness to the benefit of those with seniority rather than on the basis of merit.  The qualities of union officers demonstrate the validity of this observation.

At a remove, I've had to deal with unionized "skilled" labor among hospital employees, and the greatest number of the most "skilled" workers - the nursing staff - have known full well that the many unskilled people in their unions have exploited the critical value of the nurses as bargaining chips to the unskilled majority's benefit.

Y'see, these collective bargaining units (CBUs) are run democratically, with the majority - made up overwhelmingly by non-nursing and other non-certified employees - could and did out-vote the more highly-trained personnel.

It's for this reason that such genuinely skilled labor folks strive for separate status in their own CBUs, but that really doesn' t do them all that much good.  The concept of "closed shop" unionization requires that members of other CBUs respect strikers' picket lines, so yet again we've got the observation that:

"Democracy" is the ancient Greek word meaning:
"How the devil did we get into this mess?"

I can't see anarchists of any sort subordinating their interests and powers of decision to any sort of collective into which they have not entered freely, and the "closed shop" concept of union CBUs intrinsically and inescapably voids such an essential element of consent.

If an anarchist has to join the union and abide by the union officers' decisions in order to work in a closed shop, I mark him as an anti-union subversive from the git-go.  
« Last Edit: June 06, 2012, 05:50:57 am by Tucci78 »
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

Corydon on June 06, 2012, 06:24:23 am
Of course, in an AnCap system you'd be free to go to another, non-union, hospital. And if unions are necessarily as bad as you claim, they wouldn't survive in an AnCap system. So there's really no problem.

Tucci78 on June 06, 2012, 08:23:23 am
Of course, in an AnCap system you'd be free to go to another, non-union, hospital. And if unions are necessarily as bad as you claim, they wouldn't survive in an AnCap system. So there's really no problem.

As is being demonstrated on Vesta by way of Masha and the Mascons, there is a tendency for entrepreneurs to establish a going concern and for coercive types to move in and take over.

Most people don't seem to be aware of this, but a great many of the hospitals operating in these United States at present had begun life (in the days before government thugs moved in to force "Certificates of Need" [CONs] down our throats) as simple profit-making proprietary operations owned by a doctor or group of doctors so that they could have facilities in which to provide services to their patients. 

Satisfaction of market demand - and not some politician or bureaucrat - determined whether such for-profit enterprises succeeded or failed, while eleemosynary alternatives were established and run to charitably serve the indigent.

Indeed, while lawyers call "pro bono publico" ("for the public good") their activities in the provision of free services for the poor, medical doctors call their own work in that line "caritas" ("charity") and make no arrogant claims about it being done for any sort of abstract "public good."

When I came up into practice, it was made crystal clear that each of us was expected to put in the equivalent of a half-day a week in free service, usually by way of some clinic.

What, you think we're actually playing golf on those Wednesday afternoons we're out of the office?
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

Corydon on June 06, 2012, 09:17:44 am
OK, fine. My point is simply that, in an AnCap society, in the absence of government, bad unions will disappear, in the same way that bad companies will disappear. (And a good thing, too- otherwise what are you going to do? Prevent people from forming associations?)

macsnafu on June 06, 2012, 09:29:39 am
Come on, people.  The problem isn't with unions, but with the government laws that give unions legal powers that they wouldn't otherwise have.  Sure, in a free society, people can join unions and let the union do their bargaining for them, but they won't, unless they think the union can do a better job than if they just did their own negotiating.  Or the union will have to provide other benefits, like job training and placement, unemployment insurance, or something.

The irony of people who support unions is like many "progressive", liberal ideas:  evil corporations, granted power by government, are supposedly best fought by unions, granted power by government.  They can't see the government "forest" for the union and corporate trees.
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on June 06, 2012, 10:53:43 am
...the arrival of organized labor willing to bust head and get shot for their troubles...

Which I suppose you assume will just evaporate under AnCap? I, and probably most of the AnCaps here, support organized labor and collective bargaining.

What the hell d'you mean by "...probably most of the AnCaps here, support organized labor and collective bargaining," Kemo Sabe?  

I sure don't, and my only proximal lifetime encounters with "organized labor and collective bargaining" were as a member of a union in a closed shop in summer manufacturing jobs I held as a college student.

I think there is likely a misunderstanding of "support organized labor..." here.  I strongly suspect that there are no real AnCap advocates that would deny that individuals have the right to band together and negotiate collectively.  However, these same advocates would not deny the right of business owners/employers to decline to do business with those representing such a group.

Personally, as an AnCap advocate, I would not join such a group; I would much rather do the negotiation myself.

Tucci78 on June 06, 2012, 12:28:20 pm
OK, fine. My point is simply that, in an AnCap society, in the absence of government, bad unions will disappear, in the same way that bad companies will disappear. (And a good thing, too- otherwise what are you going to do? Prevent people from forming associations?)

What give you to think that there's anything but "bad unions"?  Point me to an example of what you conjure to be a good "closed shop" union and give us some idea of just whom that CBU is supposed to be "good" for.

Come on, people.  The problem isn't with unions, but with the government laws that give unions legal powers that they wouldn't otherwise have.  Sure, in a free society, people can join unions and let the union do their bargaining for them, but they won't, unless they think the union can do a better job than if they just did their own negotiating.  Or the union will have to provide other benefits, like job training and placement, unemployment insurance, or something.

Some unions do provide such services, but they pay for them by screwing funds out of their members' employers in (surprise!) collective bargaining on the basis of the "closed shop" system rammed down the payors' throats by way of government ukase.

And the union leadership takes a hefty rake-off for themselves (and the "Union Beneficent Fund ") in the process of squeezing out that funding. 

Smedley Butler (former Commandant of the USMC) is known today for his expostulatory pamphlet War is a Racket.  Well, unions are a racket, too. 

====================
Don Corleone: Santino, what do you think?

Sonny: There's a lot of money in that white powder.

Don Corleone: Tom?

Tom Hagen: Well, I say yes. There is more money potential in narcotics than anything else we're looking at now. If we don't get into it, somebody else will, maybe one of the Five Families, maybe all of them. And with the money they earn they'll be able to buy more police and political power. Then they come after us. Right now we have the unions and we have the gambling and those are the best things to have. But narcotics is a thing of the future. If we don't get a piece of that action we risk everything we have. Not now, but ten years from now.

Sonny: Well, what's your answer gonna be, Pop?

-- from The Godfather (1972) [emphasis added]

"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

Corydon on June 06, 2012, 12:44:19 pm
OK, fine. My point is simply that, in an AnCap society, in the absence of government, bad unions will disappear, in the same way that bad companies will disappear. (And a good thing, too- otherwise what are you going to do? Prevent people from forming associations?)

What give you to think that there's anything but "bad unions"?  Point me to an example of what you conjure to be a good "closed shop" union and give us some idea of just whom that CBU is supposed to be "good" for.

The definition of what makes a union "good" or "bad" is always going to be subjective.  I doubt we'd come to an agreement about that, and it's not an argument I care to have with you. 

My point is simply that, as macsnafu and NRNBR have said, folks should have the right to form those associations and use them to negotiate.  And furthermore, in the absence of government, if a union isn't a positive market force, it will dwindle and disappear. 

Someone who says otherwise is just making the inverse argument of ContraryGuy: that is to say, not AnCap, just a wingman for corporatism.

myrkul999 on June 06, 2012, 02:44:26 pm
I figured I might be opening a can of worms with that, and as it turns out, I was right. Tooch, I understand where you're coming from, but allow me to elaborate:

There are two types of unions: Trade Unions, and Labor Unions. Labor Unions allow groups of employees to bargain for benefits and wages on equal footing with the company. Trade Unions limit the number of workers in that trade, and actually work to protect their members from competition from other workers. Laws have granted both types of unions legal powers that they shouldn't have, and tend to blur the lines between the two.

I draw a sharp distinction between the two, with Trade Unions being firmly on the "bad" side. as I said, they act to protect their members from competition from other workers.

Quote
My life-lesson from that experience is that unions chiefly act to protect and promote mediocrity and laziness to the benefit of those with seniority rather than on the basis of merit.  The qualities of union officers demonstrate the validity of this observation.

At a remove, I've had to deal with unionized "skilled" labor among hospital employees, and the greatest number of the most "skilled" workers - the nursing staff - have known full well that the many unskilled people in their unions have exploited the critical value of the nurses as bargaining chips to the unskilled majority's benefit.

I won't deny that this is likely to be a problem, but again, competition from non-union sources of labor should prevent it.

In a company, the executives have a lot more power than does any individual worker, even if you assume a worker-friendly labor market (as most AnCap societies are assumed to be), because the executives are bargaining as a group. A labor union allows the workers to band together, to bargain on equal footing. Without laws supporting (or preventing) unions, that's likely to be their only function. They can't prevent the employer from hiring non-union labor (unless the employer is stupid enough to sign a contract saying so), and they can't prevent new workers from entering the field.

I apologize if I've offended anyone, but that's my position. I support collective bargaining as a way to ensure that workers are not exploited, robber-baron style, but not as a way to prevent workers from suffering competition from non-union sources.

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on June 06, 2012, 03:28:41 pm
There are two types of unions: Trade Unions, and Labor Unions. Labor Unions allow groups of employees to bargain for benefits and wages on equal footing with the company. Trade Unions limit the number of workers in that trade, and actually work to protect their members from competition from other workers. Laws have granted both types of unions legal powers that they shouldn't have, and tend to blur the lines between the two.

I draw a sharp distinction between the two, with Trade Unions being firmly on the "bad" side. as I said, they act to protect their members from competition from other workers.
[...]

This is a reasonable distinction; however, it is quite possible, assuming that the AnCap society recognizes some forms of "intellectual property", for trade unions to exist as well.

Specifically, if a trade union protects its knowledge with "trade secrets"; it may share them only with union members, and contractually bind those members with the provision that they are not permitted to transfer them to union non-members or use them once leaving the union.

This would, at least temporarily, limit effective competition from union non-members.  Competition could still arise from others who develop similar knowledge outside the union, as well as those developing alternative approaches/technologies, and knowledge may "leak" due to contract violations -- the violator(s) may be liable, but if the information is transferred to one or more individuals with no contractual agreement, they would not be encumbered by the restrictions.


Quote
In a company, the executives have a lot more power than does any individual worker, even if you assume a worker-friendly labor market (as most AnCap societies are assumed to be), because the executives are bargaining as a group. A labor union allows the workers to band together, to bargain on equal footing. Without laws supporting (or preventing) unions, that's likely to be their only function. They can't prevent the employer from hiring non-union labor (unless the employer is stupid enough to sign a contract saying so), and they can't prevent new workers from entering the field.

In a single company this may be true; however across employers there will be competition for those selling their services (i.e., employees).  As a result, in general, both the employer and the employee have multiple options in the market, and may both exploit this to get the best deal they can (as they individually define "best").  Without government interference, there will be less impetus to remain with a single employer, which in turn will reduce the ability of employers to retain employees at below market prices.  This will naturally reduce the necessity for collective bargaining.  It may still be of value in certain venues, but that value would largely come from reduced negotiation cost for both employer and employee.

Andreas on June 06, 2012, 03:49:50 pm
Unions work well when there is a limited labor market, but when there is a glut of workers, as in low skilled labor, especially if a high unemployment rate also exists, the Union just doesn't have enough clout to survive without outside help. 
You pretty much summed it up there.  Unions work well when there is a limited labor market.  When there is a glut (oversupply) of workers for a particular job, and people should be leaving to try something different (risky and scary though that may be), it takes a government to imprison those people in misery - slogging away at a job they are aren't needed for while (if they are lucky) living off of the progressive brand of "charity" forcibly confiscated from those who still have productive work (less a 50% "administrative" fee).



Actually, a union could work very well in a glut, too.
If you look up the medieval European guilds (with their Templar knight basis), you can see that while they dealt with skilled labor, they were as capable of dealing with gluts (see the origins of the Odd Fellows) as with upkeeping a skilled workforce (expanding as needed, for example by importing Journeymen and Odd Fellows).
For some reason the US seems to have only the kinds of unions that try to help their members not work (much), and not the unions that try to help their members work. Both kinds can and do exist. Some unions definitely hire people to help members retrain for other work, too, although the system is not as streamlined as it was back when the Templars were shaping the earth to match the heavens, dotting it with cathedrals.
The skilled labor is the key difference there.  When a group of skilled laborers chooses to boycott someone, there is a much greater force applied than when the unskilled grocery clerks do the same.  The other thing that "skilled" means though is "trainable" and, quite often, "motivated."  These make it much easier to retrain someone to keep them in a job, whereas the unskilled labor has the choice of staying in the underworked job, or leaving and facing no local job.  As you mention, they did develop methods of dealing with local gluts, effectively an information and travel network to help find a better place, but again, this only has meaning for skilled workers, where there is likely to be a lack somewhere.
The point was that the guilds did not strike. The maintained a monopoly on licenses to work, and in many ways they were trade unions, looking out for the Master Craftsmen. But what they did in a glut made sense: They worked to relocate the people for whom the work available would not suffice: Odd Fellows (With the meaning of Odd that corresponds with "Surplus") were guild members who were being relocated; there was no work for them anymore (which happened when a Cathedral neared completion), so they were given a stipend and a passport, they would then travel to the next guild over, present their passport and ask for permission to settle in; if there was no room, they'd get a new stipend and new directions. The end result was that the Templars always had experienced workers for their cathedrals. The guild members' payments to the guild coffers were both a kind of common social security and a trust to keep competition down... though not a limited and malign trust like the ones later developed, when mass production meant that a few person could own production capacity enough to create monopolies.

Now, in modern union terms, where unemployment is measured nationally, parts of the relocation efforts of a union during a glut would naturally be retraining services. Today moving is more expensive (since most people prefer to bring more than they can carry), and a lot of other factors have changed too.

myrkul999 on June 06, 2012, 04:02:20 pm
Good points.

There are two types of unions: Trade Unions, and Labor Unions. Labor Unions allow groups of employees to bargain for benefits and wages on equal footing with the company. Trade Unions limit the number of workers in that trade, and actually work to protect their members from competition from other workers. Laws have granted both types of unions legal powers that they shouldn't have, and tend to blur the lines between the two.

I draw a sharp distinction between the two, with Trade Unions being firmly on the "bad" side. as I said, they act to protect their members from competition from other workers.
[...]

This is a reasonable distinction; however, it is quite possible, assuming that the AnCap society recognizes some forms of "intellectual property", for trade unions to exist as well.

Specifically, if a trade union protects its knowledge with "trade secrets"; it may share them only with union members, and contractually bind those members with the provision that they are not permitted to transfer them to union non-members or use them once leaving the union.

"Trade secrets", I can see happening, but with a few exceptions, I think they'd probably be pretty limited in scope. This is, of course, only my opinion, and I've been known to be significantly wrong in my opinions before.

Quote
Quote
In a company, the executives have a lot more power than does any individual worker, even if you assume a worker-friendly labor market (as most AnCap societies are assumed to be), because the executives are bargaining as a group. A labor union allows the workers to band together, to bargain on equal footing. Without laws supporting (or preventing) unions, that's likely to be their only function. They can't prevent the employer from hiring non-union labor (unless the employer is stupid enough to sign a contract saying so), and they can't prevent new workers from entering the field.

In a single company this may be true; however across employers there will be competition for those selling their services (i.e., employees).  As a result, in general, both the employer and the employee have multiple options in the market, and may both exploit this to get the best deal they can (as they individually define "best").  Without government interference, there will be less impetus to remain with a single employer, which in turn will reduce the ability of employers to retain employees at below market prices.  This will naturally reduce the necessity for collective bargaining.  It may still be of value in certain venues, but that value would largely come from reduced negotiation cost for both employer and employee.

As you point out, moving is not cheap. There would be less keeping you at a specific company, but leaving might mean moving, or a longer commute, or any number of other factors that make renegotiating a more palatable choice. You're right, there will be less call for labor unions, but I doubt they'll go away entirely.

sam on June 06, 2012, 06:09:55 pm
I can't see anarchists of any sort subordinating their interests and powers of decision to any sort of collective into which they have not entered freely, and the "closed shop" concept of union CBUs intrinsically and inescapably voids such an essential element of consent.

The closed shop is the state in smaller version.  

Anarchists, of course, support voluntary association, and thus support the right of those workers who individually choose to join a union to join one, and those who choose otherwise to not join one.  As we saw in the Wisconsin recall election, unions are none too keen on that idea.

A closed shop is generally brought into being by a majority vote, accompanied by the risk of having your legs broken if you don't vote.

Unionism in practice is illustrated by the great British Coal Strike:

Scargill held a pit by pit vote, not a national pit head vote, presumably because he anticipated he would lose a national pit head vote.  In a pit by pit vote, the miners in each pit gets to vote on whether that particular pit goes out on strike, rather than voting on whether all pits would go out on strike.  Scargill then proceeded to organize physical attacks on those miners in pits that voted not to go out on strike.

The practical effect of these attacks was to make the union Scargill's personal property.  It was said of him that he started the strike with a big union and a small house, and ended it with a small union and a big house.

A union is, in practice, a little state, and like most states, is run by and for those who draw salaries from it and are granted authority by it.

The "scabs" that the union attacked in the great British Coal Strike were unionists whose pit had, in a pit meeting summoned by their union, voted against striking, and who had therefore, in accordance with the union constitution and union rules, refrained from striking.

Thus if you are an anarchist, you must oppose actually existent unionism, whoever much you might support theoretical unionism.

An anarchist might well oppose the right of corporations to limit the liability of their owners, at least in the case of corporations whose business is primarily about making promises to pay.  Banks, and perhaps insurance companies, should not have limited liability because they so frequently abuse it on a massive scale, leading to crises that invite government intervention, but a corporation, unlike a union, is simply a bunch of people voluntarily associating to achieve a common purpose.




« Last Edit: June 06, 2012, 07:06:11 pm by sam »

macsnafu on June 07, 2012, 08:53:34 am
Thus if you are an anarchist, you must oppose actually existent unionism, whoever much you might support theoretical unionism.
Well, sure.  In an anarchist society, a "closed" shop could not occur without the willing cooperation of the company, which means that unions would have to show that unionism is a benefit to the company, as well as to the employees.

But the point is not that anarchists must oppose unions, but the power and privileges granted unions by actually existent governments.  Just as anarchists must not oppose corporations, but the power and privileges granted to corporations by governments.  Obviously, in anarchy, corporations and unions could not have such power and privilege.  It is this that makes corporations and unions improbable in anarchy, but not impossible, as to exist, they would have to show that they actually contribute something useful and worthwhile to people, without that power and privilege.
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

Brugle on June 07, 2012, 07:22:32 pm
Among the many faults I found in my first reading of Atlas Shrugged was that Mrs. O'Connor willfully overlooked how the looters can always find second- and third-rate people to step up and try to shoulder the load.
Interesting.  I thought that that was one of the fundamental themes of the book--that the dominant anti-human philosophy (as translated into ethics, politics, economics, etc.) would, to the extent that it was accepted, destroy the ability to think effectively.  The "wet nurse" was a particularly vivid example (to me) of someone who could have been fairly competent if he hadn't been taught that thinking was useless.  Sure, there was some poetic license, but it wasn't all that unreasonable given the US in the early 1950s.

Consider:
if its not run by Galt, why name it after him?
Is the inability to imagine naming a town after someone other than the person who "runs" it a personality trait unaffected by the surrounding culture?  I doubt it.