Intelligence Squared U.S. Makes NYC Return with Live Debate on Unions at the Comedy Cellar’s Village Underground, October 12

October 5, 2022

Next Wednesday, October 12, Intelligence Squared U.S. will host its first live debate in New York City since the start of the pandemic. The debate question is a timely one, particularly after the relationship between workers and employers has undergone such shifts in the last couple years: “Do Unions Work For The Economy?”, The event kicks of a new series of live debates at The Village Underground called “No Laughing Matter.” Press are invited to attend.

After decades of decline, workers are organizing at well-known companies, like Starbucks, Amazon, and Google, at a pace not seen since the 1930s. Decades of stagnant wages, recent labor shortages, and the most vocally pro-union President in recent memory have all stoked key wins for American labor, including successful strikes at John Deere and Kellogg. Recent polling shows public support for labor unions has climbed to 71%, its highest level since 1965. Supporters argue that in light of yawning income inequality, organized labor is desperately needed. Unions increase workers’ pay and benefits, they say, and can also settle disputes more equitably, improve wages, and encourage a more robust middle class.

Nevertheless, only one in ten workers belong to a union, down from one in five in 1983. And some say good riddance. They argue that 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 companies less competitive.

Arguing in support of unions’ impact on the modern economy will be longtime New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse, who now writes about wages and working conditions at The Century Foundation. Opposing him will be economist Allison Schrager, who studies tax and monetary policy at the Manhattan Institute. Reason editor-at-large Nick Gillespie, who has debated a number of times on the Intelligence Squared U.S. stage, will serve as guest moderator.

The “Do Unions Work for the Economy?” debate will be held on Wednesday, October 12 at 5:30 PM (5:00 PM doors) at The Village Underground, then air soon after on the syndicated public radio show and podcast “Intelligence Squared U.S.” Media can email for access to the in-person event. Reserve tickets here.

Intelligence Squared U.S. was founded to address a fundamental problem in America: the extreme polarization of our nation and our politics. Through its award-winning live debates and associated programming, the nonprofit organization serves as a model for responsible media in a new age – fair, intelligent, nonpartisan – while restoring critical thinking, facts, reason, and civility to public discourse. Recognized as “Best Podcast Event of 2020” by Adweek, Intelligence Squared U.S. reaches millions through multi-platform distribution, including public radio, podcasts, video live streaming, newsletters, interactive digital content, and on-demand apps. With over 220 debates and counting, plus additional podcast and video content, the organization has encouraged the public to “think twice” on a wide range of provocative topics for over a decade. Intelligence Squared U.S. was initiated by The Rosenkranz Foundation, which continues to provide major support.