Newsletter: Do Unions Work For The Economy?

Do Unions Work For The Economy Debate


Steven Greenhouse
Veteran Labor Journalist at The New York Times; Author of “Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor”


Nick Gillespie
Editor-at-Large of Reason


Allison Schrager
Pension Economist; Bloomberg Opinion Contributor; Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute


Here is what we have in store this week:

We debate whether unions still have a role to play in today’s economy — or if it’s time to leave it behind

A closer look at how many Americans support TV and film strikers

 Your Sunday reading list



With Hollywood actors and writers both on strike for the last few months, an averted strike from UPS employees, and more in what some have called “the summer of strikes,” many people are paying closer attention to unions and what they do for the economy. As Labor Day approaches, we consider how unions have been a part of the conversation for as long as the modern workplace has existed.

What are the arguments? Those against unions say that unions operate under the guise of supporting the economy and workers, but they really cause harm to both by swelling unemployment rates, inflating consumer prices, and causing less competition for companies. On the other hand, union supporters say that having unions encourages a more robust middle class, helps employees get pay and benefit increases, and is necessary considering income inequalities that have gradually increased.

What are the stakes? Over two-thirds of Americans support labor unions, but unions play a more diminished role today compared to the last few decades. If their role diminishes further, employees’ livelihoods and workplace safety are at risk — while employers need to measure how to attract workers and stay relevant in a changing economy.

This week, we’re taking a look back at the questionDo Unions Work For The Economy? Arguing YES is Steven Greenhouse, a veteran labor journalist for The New York Times who covered workplaces for almost two decades. Arguing NO is pension economist Allison Schrager, who is also a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and opinion columnist for BloombergNick Gillespie, the editor-at-large of Reason, returns as the guest moderator.

We recommend letting the debate do the heavy thinking this Labor Day weekend. Thanks for listening.



Where Americans Agree: Entertainment






Do Unions Work For The Economy?



“Unions make peoples’ lives better. Thanks to unions, many more people are in the middle class. People have retirement plans; people have medical coverage. People have much safer jobs. People have work-life balance that gives them time to spend with their family.”

Steven Greenhouse



“Unions… make companies a lot less dynamic: it’s really hard to fire anyone who’s not good at their job, it’s really hard to get merit bonuses or pay people who are good at their jobs. It’s really hard to adopt new technology. It becomes very hard to be a more dynamic workplace.”

Allison Schrager




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