What Is A Union Good For Now?

Ryan Sager isn't a fan of teachers unions:

When you look at any reform (other than, say, doubling teacher pay with no strings attached) the obstacle isn’t Republicans, it isn’t lack of funding, it isn’t Joel Klein. It’s the unions.

Sean Safford zooms out and looks at the future of labor unions:

I am not at all convinced that what we should be looking for is a “revival” of the US labor movement. The economy we have today is vastly different from the one in which either the AFL or the CIO was founded. Some unions have adapted. Other unions have gained in significance as the industries with which they are associated have gained prominence in the US economy. But many others are simply out of step. The upshot of what Mike and I were trying to say (with perhaps limited success) is that worker voice today comes in multiple forms and many of these rely less on the blunt instruments of countervailing power than on the relatively softer instruments of building alliances, framing issues, participating on multiple levels (workplace, community, identity groups, local and national governments, the media, international). We lack a vocabulary for describing each of these elements as an coherent “system”. But many of the tools for analyzingand indeed carrying outthe elements of the system are within the domain of organizational theory.