Rakesh- Contradictions on Technology Contracting and Unions?

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at yale.edu
Wed Mar 8 04:22:10 PST 2000


A real question for you on comments you made condemning unions for insufficient militancy on fighting contracting in your comments on Slaughter et al, combined with your condemning of unions fighting that technology contracting out in discussions of global trade. Since the latter is a form of the resistance you said was lacking, I wonder how you square the two? Or is political resistance illegitmate but workplace resistance is okay?

You condemned the AFL-CIO trade policy to "Develop stricter rules AGAINST the mandatory transfer oftechnology, production and production techniques."

Yet you condemn the unions for "acquiesence in reengieerning, speedup , deskilling, quality circles that filch job knowledge, rigid standaridization, increased contracting out".

Well fighting contracting out of technology and job knowledge globally is what the WTO language is about, largely derived from Boeing workers fights with management to avoid such contracting out of their jobs. (Since that is where the language comes from based on the research I've done, I was surprised you had not followed the Boeing contract fights.)

Why is it bad to allow contracting out in the first instance but bad to fight it in the second?

On my side, I generally think contracting out should ideally be less of a concern for unionists, with more concern in making sure that any contractors are unionized. If that was the case, whether in the US or globally, contracting decisions will be not be made for anti-worker reasons but only for more business-related efficiency reasons- exactly the scenarios where production should shift to developing nations.

This is why both a dedication to organizing by unions both in the US and globally is important and why global labor standards to create better legal climates for organizing is so important.

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at yale.edu

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