Workers Unions as Resistance to Power Law

In Bloomberg.com’s article ‘As the Rich get Richer, Unions are poised for a Comeback’, the ‘rich get richer’ phenomena is looked at from the perspective of those who are oppressed by unequal distribution of wealth (workers). The rich get richer phenomena is a result of power law where the “number or frequency of an object varies as a power of some attribute of that object”, to quote Murat Yuksel; in this case (wealth inequality) referring to the ‘frequency’ of one’s influence varying with the amount of wealth one already possesses. Essentially this leads to the occurrence of those holding influence/power in society or the labor system to be in the position to further their own influence and gain; this is the cause of wealth inequality- the rich get richer- those already in positions of power are the most ‘visible’ to the sources of power [opportunities, possessing appropriate resources/capital (social or economic), etc.] allowing them to keep others in positions where they are lacking power- invisible.

The Bloomberg article discusses how although workers’ unions have been declining in membership and influence since 1973 (between 1979 and 2014 memberships dropped from 21 million to 14.6), there appears to be a resurgence in union activity as the expanding wage disparity has become more and more apparent in recent years. With the discussion of power law in mind, the idea of a workers union appears to make much more intuitive sense than I had previously thought. The idea of banding together in solidarity allowing greater potential pressure towards labor management from the workers is a large part of the purpose of unions, but I think that more importantly unions are attempts to prevent power law effects from taking place by making the workers (previously invisible to the sources of social power) a visible entity, whose desires must be met or at least taken into account. Unionization seems to displace the effects of power law in the realm of management within the workplace by forcing those in possession of the ‘resources to further their own social power/influence’ to distribute it more equally in order to allow for the exponential growth patterns of the already successful to be brought down to more honest/less astronomical trajectories.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-20/unions-poised-for-comeback-as-middle-class-wages-stall

http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/The-Power-Law

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