The Dead Weight Loss of Union Disputes

At Reason Hit & Run, Tim Cavanaugh provides a good observation on the ongoing dispute between the powerful Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and its breakaway local, National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), which entered a new phase yesterday, as voting began at Kaiser Permanente facilities in Northern California, for workers to decide whether to be represented by SEIU, NUHW, or no union at all.

NUHW president Sal Rosselli, who used to head SEIU’s affiliate in Oakland, has loudly complained of the SEIU national leadership’s efforts to forcibly merge his local with a scandal-ridden Los Angeles-based local. He’s got a good point. However, as Cavanaugh points out, in terms of the broader economy,  SEIU and NUHW are essentially fighting over the deck furniture on the Titanic.

[I]t’s not clear how having more choice in union leadership decisions would do much to end the exploitation of the proletariat. The more time you spend choosing between Rosselli and [SEIU President Mary Kay] Henry, the less time you have to, maybe, build some value for the people who pay you 100 percent of your income (not counting moonlighting), or even check out Craigslist to find a better job.

Even worse, your union dues may actually hurt your future job prospects, as they go to help elect and reelect politicians who support economically destructive policies intended to keep unions afloat.

For more on the SEIU-NUHW dispute, see here and here.

For more on SEIU, see here and here.