Labor union leaders are leading the charge for 400 proposals to improve democratic procedures in organizations. Sadly, however, these proposed reforms are not for workers in their unions but only for stockholders in their corporations. Labor leaders are militantly in support of the right of stockholders to greater control over the executive officers of corporations. Dan Fisher tells the story in Forbes magazine.
In the vanguard of the battle for stockholders democratic rights is the Carpenters union. According to Fisher, it submits around 80 to 100 stockholder reform proposals every year. He writes, “The union’s director of corporate affairs, Ed Durkin, said in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News that corporate directors need to be more accountable to shareholders. ‘If they know they have to get elected, that it not a foregone conclusion, then boards become better-functioning entities,’ Durkin said.”
Seems obvious? But the Carpenters union, which presses so ardently for the right of stockholders to keep corporate directors accountable, has reorganized itself to insulate its regional directors, the top leaders, from membership control. Their selection is indeed a “foregone conclusion.” These top union directors are not accountable to the membership because they are not elected by the membership.
Perhaps the solution is for the union to privatize, issue shares to members as stockholders, and seek a listing on the New York Stock Exchange…. No, we have to withdraw that suggestion. . The danger is that they might declare corporate bankruptcy while someone walks away with the money. Carpenters for a Democratic Union have a better idea: one member, one vote in the election of union officer-directors.