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Unions are the First Step, Not the End Goal
With the rise of a new labor movement it is important to look beyond unions
Unionizing is an incredibly important avenue to ensure workers’ interests are met. But they should not be the end. Unions exist to ensure that corporations do not take advantage of their workers. Yet despite unions still existing, workers’ demands are not getting heard. Moreover, the recent UAW debacle demonstrates that even unions are susceptible to corruption. As long as a corporate hierarchy exists, workers will always be at the bottom. Dismantling this hierarchy is the only way to ensure that workers are treated fairly
This is why workplace democracy and employee ownership are so important. Companies do not work for their workers, but they should. Decisions should be made collectively amongst those who know the inner workings of their company the best. the recent East Palestine disaster shows why this is important. For years union workers were crying out about how unsafe their practices were, yet they were ignored for the sake of the shareholders. It was only a matter of time before a train derailed. Had the decision-making been in the hands of the workers this would have been different. They are the ones on the train every day, they are the ones who know the system, and they are the ones who know the inventory. How safe their workplace is should be up to them, not shareholders half a country removed from the railways. But despite being unionized, they had no say.
This is not to say unions are unnecessary, they certainly are not. Unions do serve a vital function in protecting workers’ rights. In fact, unions can serve a very important role in democratizing the workplace as seen at Harvard. They simply do not go far enough.
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