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Warning about the ‘redistributionist right’

Michael Watson delivers National Review Online readers a warning about an unwise policy favored by some on the political right.

If making American workplace relations more like those in the social-democratic countries of continental Europe sounds like something out of the political program of Senators Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), that’s because it is. But a faction on the American right, typified by Oren Cass of American Compass, also wants to increase the power of Big Labor to “represent” more unwilling workers by importing European models of workplace relations. While conservatives should ensure that Americans have a voice in their workplaces, the plan of the redistributionist Right to give more power to Richard Trumka, Mary Kay Henry, and other national union bosses will hurt, not help, workers who are more open than ever to supporting conservatism. …

… Despite this history, Cass and his allies have taken the view that conservatives should work to reverse declines in union representation. They believe conservatives should advocate European-style labor-relations models that would increase the power of labor unions. Cass and others at American Compass have proposed importing three European hallmarks: works councils, union-reserved seats on corporate boards, and sectoral bargaining. …

… All three enthrall the Left because they would increase the power of labor unions as institutions, and the Left controls those institutions. Each would harm the very people on whose behalf American Compass and similarly minded conservatives purport to act: the increasing numbers of union families who support conservative ideals and principles. Each would compel workers who do not desire union membership and do not support labor unions’ social-democratic viewpoints and partisan-Democratic political programs to join them or work under conditions established by them. …

… Of the three European imports American Compass contributors propose, “sectoral bargaining,” as practiced most notably in France, is the worst idea.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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