Labor Unions: A Featured Controversy from Issues & Controversies

Labor Unions: A Featured Controversy from Issues & Controversies

Union organizer Christian Smalls celebrates after workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, vote to unionize on April 1, 2022. [ANDREA RENAULT/AFP via Getty Images]

An International Workers’ Day Spotlight from Issues & Controversies:
LABOR UNIONS: Do Labor Unions Benefit American Workers and the U.S. Economy?

Do labor unions help the U.S. economy and American workers? Be sure to check out Issues & Controversies’ complete and unbiased coverage of this important issue. Here is a sample of the pro/con arguments on both sides of the issue.

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The American middle class and high standard of living would not exist without labor unions. As union membership has declined, working-class Americans have faced stagnating wages, job insecurity, and dwindling benefits even as corporations turn record profits. Only by reclaiming the power of collective bargaining can workers reverse undignified working conditions and the damaging rise in income inequality. Unionization is obsolete in the era of globalized commerce. Unions are corrupt special interests that demand outsized benefits, distorting the free market and hurting workers and American economic competitiveness. In the modern economy, employees are better off exercising their freedom as individuals than paying dues to labor cartels that will only stunt their earning potential.

The pro/con article links to rich related resources that enhance the debate. Students and researchers can explore the “By the Numbers” data, primary sources that provide context, court cases, debate videos, NPR podcasts, infographics, editorials, a Reuters® newsfeed, a chronology, and a bibliography and further resources. Plus, discussion questions are provided to inspire critical thinking and analysis.

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