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October 21, 2022

Do Unions Work For The Economy?

Unions may be on the verge of a resurgence. After decades of declines, workers are organizing across household-name companies, like Starbucks, Amazon, and Google, at a pace not seen since the 1930s. A generation of stagnant wages, recent labor shortages, and the most vocally pro-union administration in recent memory, have all stoked key wins for American labor, including successful strikes at John Deere and Kellogg. In fact, recent polling shows public support for labor unions at 71%, its highest level since 1965. During the old industrialization days, unions were credited with securing better wages, reasonable hours, and safer conditions. They applied broad influence over the American economy. But their power waned. In 1983, one in 5 employees belonged to a union. Last year, that number had dwindled to one in 10, with most of the declines occurring in the private sector. Some say good riddance. They that argue unions actually hurt workers and the economy under the guise of supporting both. Union dues sap salaries, they say, and can actually increase unemployment. They also make the economy more rigid to change, raise consumer prices, and ultimately render unionized organizations less competitive. Advocates, however, argue that in light of yawning income inequalities, unions are desperately needed. They increase pay and benefit workers, they say. Unions can also settle disputes more equitably, while encouraging a more robust middle class. Of course, not all unions are created equal. And the difference between the private and public sector needs to be explored. Yet in light of recent widespread public support for organized labor more broadly, an overarching question looms large: Do Unions Work For The Economy?

This debate took place in front of a live audience, at the Comedy Cellar’s The Village Underground, on October 12, 2022. The debate is presented and produced in partnership with The Village Underground live debate series “No Laughing Matter”.

 

 

 

Pre-Debate

Undecided
0 %
Against the Motion
0 %
For the Motion
100 %

Post-Debate

BIGGEST SHIFT

Undecided
0 %
Against the Motion
0 %
For the Motion
100 %

Breakdown

Undecided
0% - Swung from the Against Side
0% - Remained Undecided
0% - Swung from the For Side
Against the Motion
0% - Remained on the Against Side
0% - Swung from the For Side
0% - Swung from Undecided
For the Motion
0% - Swung from the Against Side
100% - Remained on the For Side
0% - Swung from Undecided
ABOUT THE DEBATERS
For The Motion
Steven Greenhouse
Steven Greenhouse - Former Veteran Labor Journalist for The New York Times & Author, "Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor"
Steven Greenhouse is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, where he writes about wages and work... Read bio
Against The Motion
Allison Schrager
Allison Schrager - Pension Economist, Bloomberg Opinion Contributor & Senior Fellow, The Manhattan Institute
Allison Schrager is an American economist, author, and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, whe... Read bio