This is one of the more bizarre socialist ethical issues I’ve come across in the media lately.
We have a development firm hiring non-union labour to increase its profits by reducing labour costs. So far, normal. In response, we have a carpenters’ union organizing information pickets outside the firm’s offices. Again, normal. What isn’t normal is the fact that the picketers aren’t union members. In fact, they aren’t even gainfully employed. The union hired people on welfare to picket the developers so they wouldn’t have to do it themselves.
Who are the good guys here? Who should the socialist cheer for? The developers are the typical fat-cats, pretending that the rate of profit doesn’t inherently fall under advanced capitalism. The union workers are so institutionalized – so much a part of the system – that they’re actually willing to pay the unemployed to act out their class struggle. And the welfare-recipients? You just can’t cheer for the lumpenproletariat – they have no class consciousness, nor will they have learned anything from this exercise. Sure they’re recieving wages, but there’s none of that good, old-fashioned alienation of labour going on, because the union isn’t renting out its capital. It has no capital. And if it does, it shouldn’t!
I could take this opportunity to go off on institutionalized unions, for fragmenting the labour force within the same industry by selectively representing labourers. I could point out the fact that we’re living in such an affluent society that even the so-called working class can afford to hire someone else to do its bidding. Heck, I could even point out the similarities between what’s going on here and the active recruiting of American soldiers from urban ghettos to fight on behalf of the upwardly-mobile American middle class. But I’m sure you get the point.
You know, just out of disgust, I think I’ll tip my hat to the developers here. If these carpenters are too lazy to man their own pickets, would you want to hire them to build your low quality, cookie-cutter subdivision? I sure wouldn’t. Lazy carpenters.