Trade Unionism Under Globalization: The Demise of Voluntarism?
St. Louis University Law Review, Vol. 54, No. 2, 2010
14 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2009 Last revised: 19 Apr 2010
Date Written: April 11, 2010
We are now beginning to see a qualitative change in labor’s relationship to the state: trade unionism as a supplement to politics. Labor’s economic objectives have not changed; the means are undergoing change. The thesis of this paper is that largely in response to the deepening of competitive forces in private markets in the U.S. - from deregulation, changing technology and the opening up of global labor and product markets (due to decreasing transportation and communication costs and the lowering of trade barriers) - organized labor increasingly will function predominantly as a political organization. Collective bargaining will continue to provide an institutional raison d’etre and critical funding source for unions but only one (and a diminishing one) of several means for advancing the interests of its members and other constituencies. This is not to suggest the emergence of a labor party on the European model; it is an American variant: the fortunes of the labor movement will become ever more tightly tied to the fortunes of the Democratic Party and economic goals increasingly will be achieved not at the bargaining table but through the provision of public resources.
Keywords: Trade Unions, Globalization, Politics, Voluntarism, Labor Markets
JEL Classification: J39, J45, J51, J53, J58
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation