Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Union Leaders’ European Vacation

Pop quiz: You lead a union of employees at a company facing a string of humiliations and setbacks, including significant financial hurdles to your competitiveness. What do you do? If you’re the union bosses representing Airbus employees, you make matters worse. The Associated Press reported:

Unions said members at the company’s French and German plants stopped work Friday. In Spain 9,000 workers at Airbus’ three factories and other sites owned by its parent company European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., or EADS, were expected to walk off the job for an hour.

I believe similar tactics have been seen in America.

Across the Channel, Britons are examining campaign finance reform. But the Guardian notes:

Union funding of the Labour party emerged as the biggest obstacle after Sir Hayden yesterday proposed a limit of around £50,000 from individuals or organisations, increased state funding and a cut in spending between elections.

As in America, the use of member fees for politics can be tricky business. We’ve noted before that one thing union bosses loathe is having to explain themselves to members. The Guardian explains:

Unions fear that ultimately they could be forced to require members to opt in rather than opt out, as they do now. That could have serious consequences for Labour’s funding and union influence. Of the £12m given by the unions in 2005, two-thirds came from affiliation fees.

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