Should I Support Labor Unions?

Unions: Good or Bad? There are compelling arguments both for and against unions. What do you think? Review and reference at least two articles for each side of the argument. Summarize the argument from each source and formulate a coherent argument to support your opinion.

Woolsworth, now FootLocker, was once a Union. Not anymore.

Unions were once America’s middle-class — a guaranteed life from poverty and a prosperous future — so long as the union prevailed. Collective bargaining improved workers’ rights by ensuring the workman a fair salary, safe working conditions, and even access to health insurance. [1]

Today, surrogate unions exist as ‘associations’ but differentiate themselves by enforcing higher barriers of entry, such adopting stringent licensing requisites. For example, the ABA (American Bar Association) and the AMA (American Medical Association) exist for attorneys and medical doctors. In return, the associations provide the associate member industry information and professional development modules and extend an accessible network for professionals to congeal.

However, for the skilled trade professions, a mere 16.8 million Americans were represented by union stewardship in 2021 [2] — contrasting 1970s participation. Many argue the union’s decline is one of owns doing, with collective bargaining crippling organizations. [3] The private industry, for the most part, has placated the workman’s woes of yesteryear, with current benefits offered more egalitarian and generous across the industry. Access to food, medicine, machines, and automation has reduced or completely dissipated the once common risks associated in working trade jobs.

To directly answer the question on whether unionship is good or bad, I would say meh.

Labor unions can destroy businesses because some labor participants have an overwhelming sense of job security. [3] For example, the now defunct grocery chain A&P suffered from productivity issues stemming from the labor unions collective bargainings ability to cripple executive decision making. Collective bargaining is leverage, and sometimes abuse of leverage for the namesake of workers rights yield zero sum results. And in A&P’s case, the net result was several chapter 11’s and 297 stores closing and many unemployed. [4]

Though with its caveats, unionship is necessary today — especially within the construction, industrial manufacturing, and transportation/logistics industries. And as yesterday, unions similarly protect those in the construction industry, where health benefits are less likely to be offered. [5] However unions also hurt businesses. And when businesses are hurt, shareholders too are affected. For example, oftentimes retirement/pension funds are equity owners, so conversely when unions hurt businesses, they in a transverse sense hurt us too.

Essentially, labor Unions are great when collective bargaining is not abused. Then the workman is paid sufficiently, and the business creates revenues. However, an abuse of power nets a zero-sum results, with many company’s having to liquidate assets to balance operational costs.

Sources

[1] AFL-CIO: Collective Bargaining

https://aflcio.org/what-unions-do/empower-workers/collective-bargaining

[2] Bls.gov: Union Member’s 2021

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/union2.pdf

[3] Forbes: How The Unions Destroy Their Own as Viewed By a Life Long Union Supporter

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2013/12/17/how-the-unions-destroy-their-own-as-viewed-by-a-life-long-union-supporter/?sh=5207c05343f8

[4] Lohud: A&P Bankruptcy Union Backs Down Demands

https://www.lohud.com/story/money/business/2015/10/15/ap-bankruptcy-union-backs-down-demands/73999236/

[5] Construction Dive: Report Construction Works Least likely to Have Health Insurance

https://www.constructiondive.com/news/report-construction-workers-least-likely-to-have-health-insurance/519991/

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Adel Alaali

Adel Alaali

College Guy, Construction Worker, Curious Mind.