Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Chamber Union of Commerce

There seem to be a lot of people in this world who dislike labor unions.  They have a laundry list of complaints:
  • unions supporters are all socialists;

  • unions exercise too much political clout;

  • unions force members to spend their money on a political agenda that some members don’t support;

  • yada, yada, yada.

What gets me is that many of the same people, who spend an inordinate amount of time bad-mouthing labor unions, have a holier-than-thou attitude when the focus switches to the Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber, in their eyes, is a great example of a representative organization that gets things accomplished for the benefit of their members and the general public.

If you stop and think about it, though, there is not THAT much of an organizational difference between the Chamber and a union.  Often, they come at issues from divergent perspectives, but structurally they tend to mirror each other.

Both of these organizational types generally represent members who are free to join or not join as they choose.  Both charge dues that are used for administrative, educational, community and political activities.  Both generally hire staff people to carry out the organization’s work AND have members who volunteer their time furthering the organization’s objectives.

Both allow their members to have a voice in choosing the political focus for the membership.  Because both operate via the will of the majority, there will be some members in both types of organizations who will not agree with the vote of the majority.

Both the Chamber and unions endorse and oppose political candidates and ballot initiatives.  Both lobby the government for measures that will improve the lot of their members.

So why do conservatives vilify unions since they’re structurally similar to the Chamber of Commerce?  

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