Carry a Stack of Studies? Moi?
This past week, Politico reported that our fellow think tankers (albeit left-leaning) at the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute were forming unions. I assumed that these think tanks were breaking ground, but it appears that they’re just playing catch-up. The Nonprofit Professional Employees Union had already successfully organized several prominent Washington think tanks, including the Center for American Progress, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the National Women’s Law Center.
Left-leaning think tanks have lately been the target of unions, wrote Rebecca Rainey, who follows the employment beat for Politico. It makes sense. Who better to make the white-collar union case than progressive think tanks?
Over the last two decades, professional and technical union membership has been trending upward, while non-professional union membership has fallen, according to the AFL-CIO, It’s one reason Pres. Biden’s “infrastructure” proposal — whose official name is the American Jobs Plan — favors dues-paying union jobs, which of course, ultimately line union coffers. But the billions of dollars the Biden administration plans to spend to stave off the decline of unions will likely go to waste. Around the same time Brookings and the Urban Institute were organizing, Alabama workers at an Amazon warehouse voted by a wide margin to reject unionization.
As a manager of a free market think tank, I thought I could safely assume that unionization will never come to PRI. But no sooner did I send the Politico article to my fellow blogger Tim Anaya, he shot me back an email proclaiming himself the Norma Rae of the office. Among his demands:
- Think tankers will not carry more than three studies and two books at any one time.
(Hey, this stuff is heavy!)
- Panel discussions restricted to like-minded scholars to avoid mental stress and PTSD.
- Interviews only with FOX news journalists.
- Donor meetings conducted at 5-star restaurants and limited to three per year.
- Afternoon naps to rest weary brains.
Anaya’s chief complaint: free market think tanking is a tough and dangerous profession — especially in a blue state like California.
Rowena Itchon is senior vice president of the Pacific Research Institute.