we need a new (old) kind of union structure
There have been many cases like this through the years. For example who can forget all the bad press AFT got over the Puerto Rico teachers union? And then SEIU jumped in to get bad press too with Puerto Rico.
This is extremely damaging. Look at the message we are sending to workplaces where perhaps some people are thinking of trying to unionize. Few people are going to risk their jobs and reputations against a hostile management and coworkers in order to then have control of their local taken away from them by arrogant paid staffers and national/international union officers who want corporate officer level lifestyles.
So what's missing here is anyone coming up with any kind of plan for
unions to avoid the corporation-like union syndrome. The syndrome is where a local affiliates with some national/international union and then is viewed as a commodity acquisition to be merged, dismantled, whatever. Why aren't there any legal experts or labor intellectuals
coming forth with a solution to this?
Off the top of my head I can think of a couple potential avenues.
1. organizing help doesn't come from a potentially acquisitive national/international union but instead from a meta organization. Let us imagine an all-union organizing association. When a local is formed via the help of the association it is independent, not merger fodder.
2. legal local sovereignty. Imagine the is some legal pathway to a local that affiliates with an international/national union to retain
it's identity in its charter and it is non-revocable. The scope of the original local always applies to affiliation rights. Even if the
local decides to merge with another local and that merges with another
local etc the original scope of the local can vote to disaffiliate and
cannot on that basis be put into trusteeship by the larger body. No merger mania ending up with gigantic locals that couldn't possibly gain enough votes to disaffiliate or disband. The same boundaries that
formed the local should endure throughout it's life.
We need to get back to the original and best concept of unions: a free assembly of workers in a workplace representing themselves against the massive power of the employer. I would advocate creating
a different kind of "union" and not calling it "union", say "workplace
collective bargaining unit" or whatever, to get away from the decades of bad habits we're inheriting from the classic unions. New rules, new "unions",that's my suggestion. Let the classic unions merge themselves into
oblivion and be as top down as they want to be but we need another
kind of "union" that is true to its human rights roots.