Denis MacShane

Recent Articles

Do Europeans Do It Better?

We can learn a lot from European labor policy, but beware naive Sweden-envy.

L abor policy in the United States has been marked by two self defeating attitudes. First, while public policy prescribes a ritualized system of collective bargaining, in most substantive areas policy is silent or reactive, allowing employers broad discretion over work organization, worker training, and incomes policy. At the same time, labor and business leaders are consumed by an us-versus-them mentality in which there can be only one winner. Labor policies in other countries suggest how a labor movement can be stronger yet at the same time more friendly to a high-wage, highe-productivity path. That path, in turn, can offer new ways to revive the labor movement. American corporate culture is now strongly influenced from overseas, from Japanese "just-in-time" production systems to the marketing standards set by the Italian retailer Benetton. An Irishman runs that quintessential American company, Heinz, while an Australian (Rupert Murdoch) runs America's most successful media empire...