Intelligence Squared Debate Podcast Goes Live About Unions
About 70 years ago, nearly 40 percent of all American workers were in a labor union. That number today is seven percent. While labor unions have a checkered history that includes corruption, mob influence, and promoting violence, there’s no doubt that the withering away of union influence is one major reason why the average pay of the American worker has been stagnant for the last 50 years.
But unions are making some noise.
American railroad workers are threatening a strike. Those in France are in the throes of one. Amazon workers in New York decided against unionizing. Apple workers in Oklahoma voted overwhelmingly to join one. Everywhere you look, unions are more and more a part of the conversation. They’ve represented workers under U.S. labor law since 1935. And recent polling shows support is up around 71%, the highest in decades. But a more fundamental question persists: Do unions work? And more specifically, do they work for the economy?
Some say “NO.” Unemployment swells, prices inflate, and companies grow less competitive with unions in the mix, they say. Others argue “YES,” pointing to pay and benefit increases, and arguing that unions encourage a more robust middle class.
A new podcast and video from nonpartisan debate series Intelligence Squared U.S. asks the question: “Do Unions Work For The Economy?”
Arguing in support of unions’ impact on the modern economy is longtime New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse, who now writes about wages and working conditions at The Century Foundation. Opposing him is economist Allison Schrager, who studies tax and monetary policy at the Manhattan Institute.
Watch the video here, recently taped before a live audience at NYC’s Village Underground, or listen to the podcast wherever you get podcasts (search “Intelligence Squared U.S.”).