An Aggressive Curiosity
Issey Miyake | Unionization, Professionals, and Right-to-Work Laws | Factoids | Books I'm Reading
Quote of the Moment
One should always be curious. Not a passive curiosity dependent upon information received, but an aggressive curiosity that compels one to seek things out and ascertain them for oneself.
| Issey Miyake
Unionization, Professionals, and Right-to-Work Laws
The AFL-CIO’s Department of Professional Unions announced research in 2022 that showed startling growth among non-union professionals in their desire to join a union in their workplace. In 2005 only 33% would support a union in their workplace, which grew to 59% in 2016, and reached 65% in 2022. Specific demographic groups had an even stronger response:
82 percent of Black or African American respondents and 76 percent of Hispanic or Latino respondents saying they would support a union proposal in their workplace. Young professionals also viewed unionizing more favorably with 74 percent of respondents 21 to 34 years old saying they would approve of an effort to form a union in their workplace.
- 78 percent of professionals would be in favor of joining together in union to improve salaries and raises.
- Of professionals who were not required to perform in-person work during the first year of the pandemic, 69 percent said it was important that their union would work to improve work from home policies.
I came upon this research as I was looking into the news from Michigan, where the state legislature repealed the state’s Right-to-Work law, which — despite the name — was designed to let workers opt out of union dues, and thereby hobble unions, even after a majority have voted for unionization.
Greg Sargent parses what’s going on [emphasis mine]:
Michigan Democrats are using the majorities they won in 2022 to advance an agenda that’s economically and socially liberal — as developments that can complement one another.
“We’re going to stand for civil rights and labor rights at the same time,” state Sen. Darrin Camilleri, who represents a swing district around Detroit, told me. Doing both, he added, is “showing that we can deliver for working-class people across the board.”
Republicans often talk about the culture wars in class terms. Party leaders say their “anti-woke” agenda embodies “working-class values.” Republicans who lean toward populism go further, genuinely trying — to some limited degree — to create a pro-worker agenda that combines economic and culturally conservative or reactionary appeals.
Democrats, by contrast, are regularly sucked into fruitless battles over whether to emphasize economic or social issues. This is often a proxy for a dispute over which groups in their coalition to prioritize: working-class voters, especially Whites who have been abandoning the party, or more affluent, culturally liberal suburbanites.
But these Michigan developments hint at a more nuanced approach — one grounded in a bet on the changing nature of the American working class and its place in the Democratic coalition.
In the emerging Democratic reading, the old vision of a White, male, breadwinning working class concentrated in burly jobs shapes much political analysis, but it’s a pundit fiction. With service, retail and health-care sectors growing as manufacturing and mining jobs dwindle, the new working class is far more ethnically and culturally diverse — and more socially liberal — than commonly supposed.
And, as the data from the AFL-CIO DPE suggests, more professionals will be becoming active in unionization. In the DPE study, 63% of those who would support a union at work said they would talk to their coworkers about forming a union in the next year.
That year is 2023.
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Data points on the road to understanding.
The average salary for an electrician is now higher than the average for a staff accountant.
via Peter Shanosky.
Family businesses employ close to 60 percent of the [US] workforce. according to calculations. There are as many as 32 million family businesses in the country.
via Martha White citing research.
The Indo-Pacific holds 60 percent of Earth’s population, covers two-thirds of the planet, and accounts for around 65 percent of global gross domestic product.
via Damien Cave.
Just 30% of workers surveyed by Gallup said they had ‘received recognition or praise for doing good work’ over the past week.
via Molly Lipson.
Books I’m Reading
Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott — A warm, funny, and deeply humanist collection of advice for writers, which can be read with pleasure by anyone, writer or not.
The book is cast as advice to students in a writing class, and in the last chapter, she offers them — and us — this:
Try not to feel sorry for yourselves, I say, when you find the going gets hard and lonely. You seem to want to write, so write. You didn’t have to sign up for this class. I didn’t chase you down and drag you by the hair back to my cave. You are lucky to be one of the people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. So part of us belives that when the tide starts coming in, we won’t really have lost anything, because actually only a symbol of it was there in the sand. Another part of us thinks we’ll figure out a way to divert the ocean. This is what separates us from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won’t wash them away. I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be.
That’s just one paragraph.
The Overstory, Richard Powers — A tightly-knit and beautifully written collection of character studies of people drawn to protecting the giant trees of the American West, the redwoods and sequoias. Pulitzer Prize winner. There is supposedly a TV series in production.
This is amazingly relevant to the Cop City protests in Georgia where local authorities want to raze a large section of South River Forest to build a police training facility, as the author wrote about in a New York Times Op-Ed:
A character in my novel “The Overstory” comes to realize that nothing in this living world has an independent existence. As she puts it, “Everything in the forest is the forest.” Atlanta will always be a wild mix of people whose interests could not be more different. And yet everyone in Atlanta is Atlanta. All those whose city is at stake should be allowed to choose what happens to South River Forest. As with America at large, the only way forward is into that tangled woods we call democracy. It’s still alive. Use it.