Michael Perelman writes an excellent post on the roots of the current conservative efforts to roll-back collective bargaining rights for public workers. (See the Michael’s full post after the ‘more” button). Namely, the target right now is public sector workers but the effort is the same effort that traces back to the 1960’s as concerted effort of the right-wing. The idea pushed was that by eliminating workers’ rights and increasing business (particularly financial industry) profits, everybody would benefit. It didn’t work out that way, though.
One very interesting observation that he makes is that not all “unions” are targets of the right-wing. Technically in economic terms, a “union” is any combination, cartel, or trust that aims to reduce horizontal competition and negotiate or set prices/wages/output as one group. Any such “union” is in essence anti-competitive. But in some cases it may be justified as increasing overall social welfare. For example, labor unions are justified when there is only one or a very few, very large employers negotiating with a very large number of employees. The employers have monopsony power (a monopoly on the buy side). The union balances the scales. (See my post here for more.) The right-wing though is apparently only opposed to labor unions, not all unions:
One union stood out by its successes. It is not generally called a union, but so long as we can abuse reality by calling corporations people, we can call the Chamber of Commerce a union. This union is so powerful that the present United States must come before as a humble supplicant. This union was at the forefront of the deconstruction of the New Deal.
The time has come to stop blaming the victim. Somehow, we have to learn to fight back in this one-sided class warfare. We have to learn to explain that more of the same medicine that made us sick is not going to cure us. We have to learn to identify the architects of this disaster — the political manipulators, the right wing foundations and their benefactors, and if we want to begin a legitimate fight against unions, let’s start with the Chamber of Commerce.
He highlights the Chamber of Commerce (particularly at the national level), but I can name others. For example, the American Medical Assoc is effectively a union of high-paid physicians yet the right-wing actually promotes them. The American Bar Assoc. and other professional associations are likewise unions. Yet they don’t get criticized despite doctors fees and lawsuits being a very significant part of our long-term budget difficulties (healthcare costs).