To my mind, this blog post from TechCrunch on Silicon Valley and unions is an instant-classic in the so-bad-it’s-good field of outstanding achievements in the field of excellence.
The post is built on a two-legged argument. Leg one relies heavily on one researcher who found that — surprise, surprise — if unionized workers are given the binary choice between technological progress and protecting their jobs, they go for the latter. Behold the luddite horror:
As far back as I can see, unions have been tech-averse. In one 1983 survey of labor unions [PDF], Researcher Stephen Peitchinis found that a mere 14 percent of unions had policies advocating for technology change, while 14 percent actively opposed innovation if it threatened members’ jobs. Most (42 percent) have policies that begrudgingly accept technology so long as employers do so in a way that minimizes its impact on the workforce.
Yes, indeed, I can think of no other group of workers that would choose their own personal well-being over the abstract value of technological progress. It’s truly a union thing. The rest of society is all but eager to sacrifice itself on the altar of dot-com. I know I am!
So the second leg of the argument has a lot to live up to. And, sadly, it, too, falters. In this case, the author takes issue with a Slate article that attacked Silicon Valley big shots for being the class warriors they are. That’s an unfair charge, apparently, because class warfare requires disingenuousness…for some reason?
I think Slate is wrong to characterize this as “class warfare.” Many technology workers hold a genuine philosophical belief that the benefits to innovation outweigh the short-term gains of protecting workers. I think many in the Valley have been honest about their philosophical assumptions, and it’s time for unions to be honest about theirs.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but many Bolsheviks held a genuine philosophical belief that the benefits to equality outweigh the short-term gains of not killing thousands of people. And lord knows the USSR was willing to engage in a little disruption. I dunno; come to think of it, these Silicon Valley guys might wanna give the pro-union far-left a closer look.