It’s Labour Day weekend, and as many of my colleagues ruefully note, this is the one time every year when labour and union issues are guaranteed to get some attention in the news. And it’s usually mentioned in this news coverage that unions’ activism doesn’t just benefit their own members, but also improves society at large. When I teach industrial relations, I always talk about how workplaces don’t have things like minimum wages and regulated working hours because employers woke up one morning and voluntarily decided to give these things to their employees. Those things are required by law – and while unions were among the activists fighting to get those laws passed, the unions wanted better working conditions not just for their own members, but for everyone.
I’ve been thinking about this kind of activism in a very roundabout way recently, because of (more…)