Nature of the Beast

Over at Alas, Maia is shocked---shocked!---to read that unions have a history of actively obstructing women's attempts to enter the workplace:

But my main feeling while reading the book was anger - over and over again women workers were being sold out by their male comrades. Men would complain that having women workers on a lower rate undercut their wages, and instead of getting pay equity and a rate for the job they’d try and keep women out. Sexism and misogyny was so deeply ingrained that male workers and trade unionists would act against their own best interests as workers in order to maintain their power over women.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who understands how and why unions work. Unions are essentially labor cartels---in order to drive up their own wages, they have to erect barriers to entry in order to keep the competition out. So they obviously have very powerful incentives to oppose the entry of groups previously excluded from their sector of the labor market, such as women, minorities, and immigrants. Maia doesn't explain what she means when she says that the unions were acting against their own best interests, but I'm skeptical.

Note that comments critical of unions are not permitted in the thread over at Alas. If you have something to say that you want the readers at Alas to see, you can post a comment in one of their frequent open threads.

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