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Last week, Shaw Fain won the presidency of the United Auto Workers (UAW), defeating incumbent Ray Curry of the Administration Caucus. The election comes in the wake of a federal investigation that discovered widespread corruption among UAW leadership. 

In a recent article, DAVID WITWER argues that the absence of electoral democracy led to a culture of corruption in the UAW.

From the text:

“Despite Walter Reuther’s progressive stance, and despite his personal honesty, the UAW acted like a one-party state, demonstrating its underlying similarity to a union like the Teamsters. The decision to prioritize political unity had long-term implications for the UAW, as the Reuther Caucus, which came to be known as the Administrative Caucus, completely dominated the union’s leadership ranks for the last seventy years. Over that time period the emphasis on party loyalty eroded internal controls within the UAW, creating an organizational culture in which union officials chose to look the other way as union funds were misused and other forms of corruption proliferated. There are compelling reasons for organizations not to want to address the existence of corruption within their ranks, and ironically this is especially true for groups with a progressive agenda, such as nonprofit organizations and unions. The current UAW corruption scandal, however, highlights the problem with the strategy of simply downplaying the significance of union corruption.”

+  “The UAW had seen its bargaining power sharply decline from the 1980s on in part due to the growing share of US auto production that was taking place in non-union ‘transplants’ (US assembly plants owned by foreign-based auto companies).” By Harry C. Katz and Arthur Wheaton. Link

+  Two from Nelson Lichtenstein on post-war militancy and foreman participation in the UAW. Linklink

+  “Despite the male dominance and to a certain extent the male orientation of the UAW, however, women’s activism and union efforts on behalf of women have long been hallmarks of the union.” By Nancy Felice Gabin. Link


Labor market dynamism

SADHIKA BAGGA is a PhD student in economics at the University of Texas at Austin. In a recent paper, she compares internal and external labor market dynamism in the US.

From the abstract

“Over the last four decades, employment composition has shifted towards large firms in the US. This has occurred amidst a decline in employer-to-employer transitions. A natural question is, are workers in large firms climbing job ladders internally rather than externally? Using data from various supplements of the Current Population Survey, I find evidence of the prevalence of internal job ladders within large firms. I document that job stayers in large firms, relative to small ones, realize a larger annual pay growth and a higher probability of internal job switching. Accounting for internal job ladders amplifies labor market dynamism and offsets part of the decline in external employer-to-employer switching rates. At the same time, there has been a decreasing trend in the rate of internal job switching, suggesting that the forces affecting declining external dynamism could have also had implications on internal job ladders. I hypothesize that the decline in internal dynamism could be driven by the firm’s endogenous response to decreasing labor market competition.”

+ + +

+  “This distinction between traditional, uninformed depositors and modern, informed ones reflects a revolution in the structure of contemporary banking.” New on PW, Elham Saeidinezhad examines the shifts in banking exemplified by the fall of Silicon Valley Bank. Link. Stay tuned for a forthcoming PW series from Saeidinezhad on market microstructure. 

+  “The history of America’s banking institutions demonstrates how global military and economic networks have shaped the development of nation states, as much as the reverse.” Also new on PW, Nic Johnson on the interimperial and pan-American origins of the Fed. Link.

+  “ZPMC’s cranes are tech products as much as they are pieces of physical infrastructure.” Grady McGregor on Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC), whose cranes dominate ports around the world. Link.

+  Johanna Bozuwa, Sarah Knuth, Grayson Flood, Patrick Robbins, and Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò propose a Federal Public Power Program. Link

+  “Democrats in particular are both especially opposed to and especially supportive of business engagement in politics, indicative of the veracity of the competing narratives.” By Eitan Hersh. Link.

+  Irene Dingeldey and Ilana Nussbaum Bitran examine the impacts of the proposed European Minimum Wage Directive on trade unions and employer associations. Link

+  “The recent IMF bailout package has significantly shifted Sri Lanka’s foreign policy with major players such as China, India and the United States, though such shifts do not seem to bode well for its people.” By Uditha Devapriya. Link

+  “This paper provides the first estimates of the relationship between Reconstruction-era tax policy and the violent attacks against Black politicians. Using unique data on Black politicians, political violence, and local tax revenue, I find that areas with higher local per capita tax revenue were much more likely to have violent acts committed against Black policymakers. Before the Civil War, the range of public goods provided by state governments in the South was relatively small and tax rates were low. Wealth and political inequality were pronounced, with a small number of Whites controlling the majority of wealth as well as the political infrastructure. Following the Civil War, Black enfranchisement led to the election of Black officeholders who pursued a dramatically different policy agenda, with local taxes financing public schools, repairs and construction of public works projects, and humanitarian aid. The resistance of Whites to these policies was highly organized.” By Trevon D. Logan. Link

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