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“Pro-Labor” Conservatives Aren’t Going Away Anytime Soon

Sep 25, 2020

In a recent interview with New York magazine’s Eric Levitz, American Compass think tank head Oren Cass advocates for a pro-labor conservative agenda in the United States. Cass, a former advisor to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns — yes, the same Mitt Romney who famously hates the non-rich — argues that “unions perform many of the exact functions” which conservatives “believe are missing from this society.” Where conservatives decry today’s “social dysfunction,” Cass offers organized labor as a force for combating isolation and forging community.

Cass advocates for sectoral bargaining, which is the collective bargaining of contracts — including such issues as pay scales and working conditions — at the industry level, setting a floor that includes most or all workers in a given sector of the economy. He sees it as a means to “get adversarial bargaining out of the individual workplace” and decrease employers’ reasons to fight unionization.

He’s also taken with labor-management cooperation, arguing that conservatives should support initiatives that give “workers and management the opportunity to interact and collaborate and share information, and, in some instances, give workers an actual say over decision-making.” (It is a sign of how far organized labor has fallen from the heights of its militancy that Cass can imagine unions as a potential ally, rather than an enemy, of his broader conservative goals.)

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