Before you ask: I was raised in a union household. I know precisely what that word means, and I am using it precisely as my late father the local union president would have used it if he had lived to read this Wall Street Journal article by former SEIU boss Andy Stern. Let me summarize said article: I, Andy Stern, am a cheap date* who can be easily persuaded to publicly abandon support for the most successful economic/fiscal system in human history in exchange to a free trip to the Great Wall of China. But ignore for right now Stern’s unfortunate (for him) timing in writing a remarkably servile paean to the planned Chinese economy at precisely (I’m fond of that word this morning, it seems) the moment when the Chinese economy is looking alarmingly fragile to the rest of the world. Let’s instead talk about the state of organized labor in the People’s Republic of China, shall we?
Well, in at least one way you can certainly say that labor’s organized in the PRC: the ChiComs haven’t been shy about instituting absolute and exclusive control over trade unions. There’s precisely one trade union in China – the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which is, as CNN helpfully notes, “a government-sanctioned organization whose primary mission is to support Communist party policies and seek basic compensation for workers.” If you don’t like that union? Suffer. Want to start your own? Here comes the cops. Want to do collective bargaining? Oh, you poor, naive so-and-so – hey, wait: isn’t Andy Stern in favor of collective bargaining? Why, yes, so he is. So why is Stern supporting a country where they routinely oppress the workers (including children) in ways that go beyond even the most fetid fever-swamp agitprop of the American labor movement? Particularly when labor unrest in China just keeps increasing?
Oh, right. Because Andy Stern’s a scab that got bought off by a Center for American Progress-sponsored trip to China. I’m embarrassed on behalf of my old man; Stern didn’t even have the decency to be expensive to buy.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*I originally had a different noun there. But I decided that it was too insulting to sex workers.