Tech Companies Worried About Unions
from the recession-time... dept
It never fails. As the economy collapses, someone thinks that the answer is greater unionization. It happened back in 2000 when the tech bubble collapsed, and it’s happening again today, in part due to recently proposed legislation that would make it easier to unionize. Apparently, the tech industry is especially worried about this — and they should be. I’m very much a student of the economics of unions (I do have a degree in labor relations, after all, which included more classes than I’d care to remember on both labor history and labor economics) and while I recognize the tremendous value that collective bargaining provided a century ago to workers who were helpless to fight back against abusive management, that’s not the situation we’re in today. Unionizing the tech industry would be a disaster for the economy and innovation.
Collective bargaining is one thing, but unions tend to be more focused on protectionism, rather than just getting workers together to bargain a deal. And much of our innovative environment is encouraged by a dynamic workforce with increased job mobility, allowing for a cross-pollination of ideas, as opposed to a stagnant and limited workforce. Unionization takes away the necessary flexibility of both workers and employers, greatly slowing down the pace of innovation. It could make sense in a static, totally mature environment, but it’s difficult to think of many of those. These days, almost every industry needs to be innovating, and you don’t do that with a unionized structure. Just the very nature of building a structure that encourages an antagonistic relationship between “workers” and “management” misses the point, these days. A friend mentioned the other day that workers today are more likely to be shareholders than union members, so perhaps they’ll recognize this and not go down a bad path that leads to fewer jobs, less innovation and more economic toil. Unions are the last thing that the tech industry needs right now.