I am writing a paper for my class on Globalization. I am trying to write my first policy paper on Argentina and how organized labor helped rehabilitate it from the punch to the gut liberalization gave that country.
Here is my quick brain storm on the type of research I want to do. We live in a globalized liberal economy. An important feature of free-market liberal economies is to make profit. What tends to cost the most? Wages.
Organized labor has the responsibility to fight for good and high wages for the working class it represents.
Employers are looking for labor markets that reduce their wage expense, and unions, by their very definition keep wages high. This is a cat and mouse game of tantamount proportions. Wherever the jobs go, unions follow and organize the workforce, and then the employer leaves for a different labor market, and it starts over. Everyone is following their role.
How do we stop this cycle? The obvious is to organize everyone and maintain strength so employers have no place to run, but we all know that is impossible.
The other initiative is for the state to become the employer, we’ve seen this in action, but it was under attack from day one, thus we do not have much solid empirical data. What we do know is that a system like this, that is always defending itself from the capitalist juggernaut, tends toward extreme inefficiency.
I think an answer to the short-term lies somewhere in Argentina. Globalization is here to stay and it doesn’t seem to be disappearing in my lifetime. Argentina decided to go through its liberal transformation and when it did everything fell apart.
I think that liberalization is survivable if a country had a strong organized labor class beforehand that can basically work as intermediaries in the process. We know that when the capitalists were scurrying about what to do during the Argentine Economic crisis the actual factory workers kept industry afloat by taking ownership of these factories and continuing doing work.
Surviving globalization lies somewhere in here. If we must assume the free-market as the path we are on then maybe we can take a lesson from Argentina and make sure organized labor is strong and at the frontline.