Answer question one and two. Do not use wide margins or extra spacing between paragraphs. You will be graded solely on the depth of your knowledge of the course material. A paper that is solely your opinions unsupported by facts drawn from the readings will not receive credit. Please do not excessively use quotations from the readings. You should use footnotes to cite quotes, paraphrasing and statistics.
According to the authors we have read this semester, Zweig, Abelda, Cowie, what are the divisions in America’s society, economy, and polity and how can (or can’t) unions help to lessen these divisions. Please make sure your essay includes assigned readings only. You are required to write one double-spaced essay that is at least 4 full pages but no more than 6 pages long. (40 points)
Read the articles below and discuss how the readings assigned this semester help explain the trends the articles describe and the future of labor unions in America.
2A. Elections brighten future of unions (3 pages, 30 points)
By Sam Hananel
Monday, November 19, 2012
When Maggie Hassan won the New Hampshire governor’s race, it wasn’t just a victory for her fellow Democrats.
Unions spent millions backing Mrs. Hassan with television ads and an extensive get-out-the-vote operation because she opposes a right-to-work bill to ban labor-management contracts that require affected workers to be union members or pay union fees.
From California to Maine, unions used their political muscle to help install Democratic governors, build labor-friendly majorities in state legislatures and defeat ballot initiatives against them.
The combination of union money and member mobilization helped Democrats take control of state legislatures in Maine and Minnesota. In Michigan, voters repealed a law that allowed cities in financial distress to suspend collective bargaining contracts. But unions lost there on an effort to make collective bargaining rights a part of the state constitution.
In perhaps their most important victory, unions defeated a California ballot measure that would have prohibited them from collecting money for political purposes through payroll deductions.
"The unions must be fairly happy with themselves," said Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. "These are positive signs, particularly saving their political life in California."
While re-electing President Obama was labor’s highest Election Day priority, unions invested major resources in state races where they have been fighting efforts by governors and state lawmakers to restrict bargaining rights or dilute union power.
The victories could mark a turnaround of sorts for unions nearly two years after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced plans to strip teachers, nurses and other public employees of most collective bargaining rights. Mr. Walker, a Republican, justified the move as necessary to stem the state’s budget shortfall.
Since then, unions have been fighting dozens of measures across the country targeting labor rights. They failed earlier this year to recall Mr. Walker from office, but a judge has declared parts of the Wisconsin law unconstitutional.
It wasn’t all good news for unions on Election Night. They lost a first-of-its-kind ballot effort in Michigan that would have enshrined collective bargaining rights in the state constitution.
Unions saw the measure as a way to prevent Republicans from passing a right-to-work law that would have ended unions’ ability to collect fees from nonunion workers. Critics said it would cause the repeal of dozens of state laws and interfere with local officials trying to control their budgets. One union-backed group spent at least $6.5 million on TV ads supporting it.
Labor’s victories came at a steep cost, too. Unions and other Democratic interests poured at least $75 million in the effort to defeat California’s Proposition 32.
(3 pages) (30 points)
2B. What is the significance of this article for the labor movement? Will it force labor to rethink its future strategies? (3 pages) (30 points)
American manufacturing is coming back. Manufacturing jobs aren’t.
Posted by Neil Irwin on November 19, 2012 at 10:28 am
The discussion of American manufacturing is often a muddled one, steeped in nostalgia for a bygone era and accompanied by a certain misty-eyed conviction that it is a sector in ceaseless decline.
A new study from the McKinsey Global Institute published Monday morning adds some welcome clarity. In 184 pages, the in-house think tank of the global consulting giant presents a picture of manufacturing as among the most dynamic sectors of the U.S. and global economies, driving higher productivity and standards of living. But it also shows that what we usually think of as a traditional manufacturing job isn’t coming back. American manufacturing may be vibrant, but that doesn’t mean it will create many jobs (Nanine Hartzenbusch/For the Washington Post)
Manufacturing contributed 20 percent of the growth in global economic output in the decade ending in 2010, the McKinsey researchers estimate, and 37 percent of global productivity growth from 1995 to 2005. Yet the sector actually subtracted 24 percent from employment in advanced nations.
“Manufacturing makes outsized contributions to GDP. It makes outsized contributions to overall productivity growth. It drives prosperity,” said James Manyika, one of the authors of the report. “But purely on employment, it has been declining over time.”
It is a story of robotics and other technologies improving at a remarkable rate, eliminating the need for factory floors crowded with workers doing manual labor. In the newest factories, one can look across an airplane hangar-sized floor and see only a small handful of technicians staring at computer screens, monitoring the work of the machines. Workers lifting and pushing and riveting are nowhere to be seen.
That means that the manufacturing jobs that do remain are very different from the old world, in which a man (it was almost always a man) without much education could show up at the door of a factory and have a multi-decade career at middle class wages assembling things.
Rather, at least 30 percent of “manufacturing jobs” are things that would look to most people like white-collar service jobs: Sales, engineering, design, that sort of thing. While machines have gotten very good at building cars, they can’t design a car or develop a marketing plan. That number is a remarkable 55 percent in a category of manufacturers that the McKinsey researchers call “Global technologies and innovators” and includes makers of semiconductors, medical devices, and other advanced goods.
In other words, the manufacturing worker of the future is more likely to have a graduate degree and wear a suit or a labcoat to work than to have only a high school education and carry a lunch pail.
(As an aside, the fluidity around what counts as a manufacturing job is nothing new. According to U.S. government statistics, as recently as 2001 I was a manufacturing worker; even though my job was to sit at a computer and write articles, it was for a company that was in the business of manufacturing newspapers. The Labor Department has since re-ordered its classification system).
That doesn’t mean all is lost in manufacturing as a creator of good jobs. Manyika said that besides positions for highly educated professionals, there is a need for qualified technicians, such as electricians and mechanics, that isn’t being satiated by community colleges today. But even that improvement may not be enough to solve one of the core problems afflicting the American economy. Only 64 percent of men over 25 with only a high school degree were employed in October; that number was 72 percent a decade ago.
“Manufacturing cannot be expected to create mass employment in advanced economies on the scale that it did decades ago,” concludes the report.
But apart from jobs, the outlook for American manufacturing is sunnier, in McKinsey’s analysis, than one might expect. The United States leads the world in market share of the global technologies and innovators category of manufacturing.
And another advantage for the United States is relatively affordable energy, thanks in no small part to lots of supply of natural gas. There are some sectors of manufacturing, such as of wood products, refined petroleum, and basic metals, in which energy is an overwhelming driver of costs. It is therefore most economical to locate production in the places with the cheapest energy, even if labor costs or high. That increasingly fits the United States to a tee. (3 pages) (30 points)
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