A union for the redundant

Barry Brooks

Historically unions have demanded that productivity gains be shared with the remaining workers. Increased profits due to automation should not just go to the owners. That's very nice, but automation-redundant laid-off workers are left searching for some new job, while unions agree to split the lost wages with the owners. The line was that pay raises for those still employed reflect increased productivity, thus they are not inflationary.

A new class agreed to split the loot, the owner-worker class. The plight of those displaced workers who got no share at all of the increased profits made possible by increased labor productivity was not covered. There is no union for the redundant class.

Let's not expect wild economic growth or productivity raises for surviving workers to cover the needs of the redundant workers who have no claim at all on the automation-loot like the owners and the remaining workers who are still represented by unions. What does it mean? Today's unions are merely defenders of the owner-worker class. To get to the root of labor problems unions could represent both workers and forsaken, redundant ex-workers.

A fully automated economy would have zero wages. All income would be profit. That's where a union of the redundant should look for money to replace the wages lost to automation. Trending, at the limit, is an economy with one owner and one worker. That would would make almost everyone redundant.

Let's end the need for suicidal economic growth. Instead of making unneeded jobs, unionize the redundant!