chapter  16
U.S. Labor Faces an Identity Crisis
Pages 7

But like the view offered by union leaders, the progressive diagnosis and prescription misses something important. It fails to recognize the class nature of contemporary U.S. unions. As Annunziato (1990) has argued, U.S. unions today act very much like capitalist enterprises that sell a commodity for a fee. Like insurance companies, unions today sell a service commodity-what Annunziato calls "union representation." This capitalist aspect of unionism is reflected in the priority unions place on collective bargaining as the primary means to secure employment protections for their customers (union members). Labor contracts typically provide due process in cases of discipline, wage increases, some measure of job security (e.g., seniority protection), and so forth. Unions attempt to sell this service through organizing drives. These may be viewed as marketing campaigns during which the union must convince potential customers of their need for the service they provide.