The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

Labor Unions should be abolished.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/28/2013 Category: Economics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,885 times Debate No: 38231
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (0)
Votes (1)




Labor union- an organization of workers formed of advancing its members’ interests in respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions.

Arguments why Labor unions should be abolished

1. It leads to higher prices for consumers.
For instance, a Union of company (x) demand for wage increase, then the employers(board) accepted the demand, so to recover the losses, the board of directors of company (x) decided to raise the prices of their products. This would affect a wider circle of people than the fewer people of labor unions.

2. It prevents the firing of clearly incompetent workers.
An incompetent worker can depend on unions to maintain his employment, even if he is not doing his job very well. This mentality should be avoided; otherwise it would harm the company and the products they make. Another, the idea of labor union destroys the idea of competitive worker, as an incompetent worker may rely to the union anytime to avoid work termination.

3. It leads to job losses.
Many workers may lose their job because the company could no longer afford to pay for their wages because certain Union workers demanded wage increase. And worst, the company may shut down because it could no longer profit; this would result to loss of jobs for everyone working in the company. Or else, the company will go abroad because of cheaper workers, resulting again to loss of job.

Without labor unions, workers are still protected because there are laws that protect them in their workplace.

Let us think of the Economy! Let us promote competitiveness among workers! Let us not succumb to violent demands!


I accept this debate and hope for a lively and friendly one. I remind Pro that he has the Burden of Proof (BoP).

I will say that I do find it unfortunate that Pro's arguments seem so clearly based in a bias against labor unions unrelated to evidence.

Pro first thinks that labor unions lead to higher prices for consumers. While this may be the case in many instances, it is not necessarily so, nor does he offer any evidence of this. Companies make as much profit as they think they possibly can--they aren't not raising prices just to be nice. Companies maximize profits. That's what they do. They're limited by what their costs are, and what the market will bear. While their costs will rise if they accede to union demands, that will not affect the market's willingness to pay.

Further, even accepting Pro's argument does not address the main point, which is whether companies should be paying a wage appropriate to the work being done. CEO wages have exploded in the last 30 years, growing at a rate 127 times that of worker pay. [1] Between 1978 and 2011 CEO pay went up over 700%, while worker pay rose just 5.7% [2]. This is the general trend for the last 50 years [3].

The argument that workers should not be paid higher wages, in the absence of an argument for addressing CEO pay, is hypocritical. CEO pay is a much begger problem than that of paying workers a wage that reflects their work and contribution to corporate success.

Fundamentally, slave labor would get the lowest possible price for consumers. I assume Pro is not advocating for slave labor.

This, of course, does not address what might be unreasonable wage demands. But considering the growth of CEO pay vs. average worker pay, it is clear that it is not labor unions making unreasonable wage demands.

Pro then goes on to claim that unions prevent the firing of "clearly incompetent workers". He gives no sources for this, either, nor is it necessarily so. In general, what unions fight for is the "just cause" concept[4], where the company must actually do their due diligence in ensuring that they have actual cause for firing someone before they do so. [5] If the leadership of a company is too incompetent to meet that (rather low) standard, it is not the labor union's fault.

Pro moves on to the argument that unions lead to job losses. While he presents a hypothetical, he presents no evidence. I can present a hypothetical too: without labor unions, an asteroid might hit the earth, wiping out all life. That does not have bearing on reality, however, and I urge Pro to find actual sources to back hims arguments with real facts, rather than constructing hypotheticals based on his biases.

Pro's final claim, unnumbered, is that "Without labor unions, workers are still protected because there are laws that protect them in their workplace." This is, of course, flatly untrue. Perhaps Pro is unfamiliar with the concept of "At-will employment"? [6]

Pro closes by claiming: "Let us think of the Economy! Let us promote competitiveness among workers! Let us not succumb to violent demands!"

The most laughable part of that is that labor unions help the economy, particularly as "The distribution of wealth has been much more even during times of powerful unions than during times of weak ones, like today" [7], Pro has done nothing to actually demonstrate that competitiveness among workers is affected by unions, and Pro has made no attempt at a case whatsoever for "violent demands".

To be clear: I could easily agree that the state of unions could certainly stand improvement. But Pro has the Burden of Proof to demonstrate sound reasoning why Labor Unions should be abolished. He has not given any real evidence-based reason to do so.

Unions occupy the position they occupy because the government stepped in when labor was clashing with business. Rather than allowing the potential for multiple bargaining units, the government declared that only 1 unit could represent any given class or appropriate bargaining unit. This not only stabilized the concept, it also helped strengthen worker rights and power. But unions suffered a decline beginning in the late 60's, and as they've declined, so too has the middle class [9]. A lot of this has been due to legislative solutions specifically designed to limit the power of unions, often based on the arguments Pro presents here--demonstrably to the country, the economy, the employees's, and the people's detriment.

Debate Round No. 1


I am well aware of the burden of proof for the affirmative side.

Talking about evidence? Just read! Mr. Debater, please present your arguments clearly and orderly. Give your own points with evidence.

It leads higher prices for consumers.

It always amazes me that some people just can’t seem to grasp the concept that if you raise costs on businesses the prices they charge consumers for services will go up.

For example, Unions Caused FedEx Prices to Soar. FedEx and other overnight air carriers were subjected to strikes in 1997 that resulted to price increase of their service.

Another, Friedrich Hayek argued that the effect of union activities to influence pricing is potentially very harmful, making the market system ineffective.

By causing wage increases above the market rate, unions increase the cost to businesses, causing them to raise their prices, leading to a general increase in the price level

When labor unions negotiate higher wages, it may be considered a victory for the employees, but what really happens when money is redistributed through raises and promotions? The money distributed as a pay increase comes from a company’s contribution margin. This is the cash a company has left over after its expenses are paid from its gross revenue. Let’s take a look with real numbers. If a company makes a total of $100M, it may pay $90M in expenses like salaries, wages, taxes, etc. This leaves the company with $10M profit margin, which is typically reinvested in projects to grow the company or partially paid out in the form of dividends if the company is publicly traded. This typically leads to stores raising the price of their goods to keep up with the extra “costs.”

It leads to job losses.

High union wages that exceed the competitive market rate are likely to cause job losses in the unionized sector of the economy. Also, those who lose high-wage union jobs are often reluctant to accept alternative low-wage employment. Between 1970 and 1985, for example, a state with a 20 percent unionization rate, approximately the average for the fifty states and the District of Columbia, experienced an unemployment rate that was 1.2 percentage points higher than that of a hypothetical state that had no unions. To put this in perspective, 1.2 percentage points is about 60 percent of the increase in normal unemployment between 1970 and 1985.

Further, Milton Friedman, advocate of laissez-faire capitalism, believed that unionization (as well as the minimum wage) frequently produces higher wages at the expense of fewer jobs, and that, if some industries are unionized while others are not, wages will decline in non-unionized industries.

By raising the price of labour, the wage rate, above the equilibrium price, unemployment rises. This is because it is no longer worthwhile for businesses to employ those laborers whose work is worth less than the minimum wage rate set by the unions.

In today’s modern society several factors have changed, unions are more of an economic hindrance than a beneficial big brother. The typical working conditions have improved dramatically, business competition is fiercer than ever, and technological innovation is continually evolving. Unions sought their highest level of activity in the 1950’s, however; today it is less than nine percent. There is one factor that stands between businesses employers and union agents that has not changed, and that factor is the economic forces of supply and demand in the labor market.



Thank you to Pro.

However, I feel I must make a few opening remarks regarding sourcing, quoting, and plagiarism:

Pro's last round had 6 sources. They were:

1 - An opinion piece with no facts from which he got his "100 million dollar" example.
2 - A letter to the editor of a newspaper that complains about a specific anecdotal example from the 70's.
3 - A BBC article on raising British rail ticket prices to pay for infrastructure. As far as I can see it says nothing whatsoever about Pro's argument, nor does it have anything to do with unions.
4 - Another opinion piece without factual backing from which he lifted quotes
5 - A wikipedia page from which he lifted some quotes
6 - An article from which he took at least a whole paragraph, including the example of the "hypothetical" union-less state.

Pro quotes verbatim from his sources without ever using quotes to indicate he has done so. Technically, this is plagiarism, though I do hope it was merely an error on Pro's part. Pro did no quoting or inline sourcing at all, so anywhere I say he "took X", he did so without any direct attribution.

Pro: Please source appropriately. C/Ping someone else's argument does not make an argument of your own. I urge Pro to make an argument and find sources which support it, rather than trying to take arguments piecemeal from others.

On to rebuttals.

Pro claims that "It always amazes me that some people just can’t seem to grasp the concept that if you raise costs on businesses the prices they charge consumers for services will go up."

The problem is that it's not that people can't “grasp the concept”. Businesses make profit. When their costs go up, their profits shrink. This only requires them to raise prices if they demand the maintaining of the level of profit. While sometimes it is true that raising costs necessitate the raising or prices, the implication that Pro makes, that every dollar paid must be made up, is simply fallacious.

Pro claims that "Unions Caused FedEx Prices to Soar." As support for this, references the strike in 1997, which, he claims, caused Fedex to raise prices, and uses a 2010 source claiming that “Unions May Cause FedEx Prices to Soar” (emphasis mine). The 1997 strike was UPS[1]. During that time period, Fedex saw increased revenue. Fedex is still not a "union company" [2], However, since that time, UPS has not suffered greatly, and remains a major competition to Fedex.

Pro drops my points regarding paying apppropriate wages vs. slavery, and my points regarding CEO pay. I believe that both of these points effectively show that simply decrying "higher wages", and blaming unions for them, is not a valid point.

Pro repeats "job losses". He claims that "a state with a 20 percent unionization rate...experienced an unemployment rate that was 1.2 percentage points higher than that of a hypothetical state that had no unions" (emphasis mine). That can easily be turned around: A hypothetical state with 100 percent union membership might have had an unemployment rate of 0! We can construct hypotheticals that feed into our preconceived notions all day long.

Pro says that Milton Friedman believed unionization and the minimum wage were bad things. Simply repeating Milton's belief is an appeal to authority. Does Pro have any evidence? Pro believes that unions increase unemployment. Does he have any study to back that up?

Fundamentally, Pro seems to make a mistake that a lot of people seem to make. Unions do not have magical powers. They are a negotiating unit, negotiating with the company to set wages and working conditions. Companies are not required to pay whatever the union wants. At the same time, unions give a voice to employees who otherwise would have only their individual abilities to bargain with the company. This results in higher wages and more workplace protections.

Pro's main argument, and the only one that he maintains in this round, is that unions raise wages, and higher wages lead to higher prices. He asserts this as a prima facie bad thing. The contrast are the German Auto companies, which are quite profitable despite high wages and high levels of unionization. When they come to the US, they locate in right-to-work states, where they can pay less. It doesn't lower the prices of the cars, or hurt the company's competitiveness. They do it because they can. [3] Further, I've already pointed out that slave labor would keep prices low, too, but that would obviously not be a good. The economy is influenced by more than how much profits line the pockets of corporations.

I would agree that unreasonably high wages are a bad thing. But Pro has not shown that Unions cause unreasonably high wages. I have shown that CEO pay has risen explosively compared to average worker pay; this is why CEOs are a much bigger problem than unions.

Over to Pro.

[1] -
[2] -
[3] -

Debate Round No. 2


Thank you for Con! It was just a lapse for not putting superscript that directly attributes the sources, but anyway the sources are found at the bottom. In round one, I used my own arguments; however, in round two, I decided to put evidence from different sources in support with my arguments in round one.


Arguments why Labor unions should be abolished

1. It leads to higher prices for consumers.
2. It prevents the firing of clearly incompetent workers.

3. It leads to job losses.



Thank you to Pro.

I appreciate Pro's acknowledgement of his error, though I remind him that just because "the sources are found at the bottom" does not excuse a complete lack of attribution for direct quotes, and inform him that the use of a superscript would nothave been sufficient to attribute words that were not his own--that is what quotation marks are for.

A note on my sourcing:
My R1 has a source I did not attribute (listed as source 9, when there is no source 8). This was an error; I had to cut material when I trimmed the argument to fit the character limit. At the bottom you'll find the source, which I have still labeled as source 9 despite a lack of source 8. It's a graph. The assertion was never addressed, but I felt I should at least list the source as I had originally intended. I do not expect this source 9 to affect anyone's consideration of the debate. (There are also a few typos that are glaring to me, but it's too late for those).

To final-rebut and close:

Pro has made 3 major assertions in this debate. He asserts that Unions lead to higher prices for consumers, that they prevent the firing of clearly incompetent workers, and that they lead to job losses. These are his reasons for wanting to abolish labor unions.

2 and 3 (firing and job losses) have been rebutted and were never supported by Pro. Making unsupported assertions is not a valid way to argue; if you think unions lead to job losses, find some research which supports that. If you think unions prevent the firing of clearly incompetent workers, find some data which supports that. Because these are, or should be, facts. Pro advocates for the abolishment of unions based on these things that Pro claims happens; either unions DO lead to job losses, or they do not. We have decades of data. If you haven't seen the data, then how do you know that these factual assertions are true?

Number 1, that it leads to higher prices for consumers, was rebutted in R1 and R2. As I noted there, it's not necessarily the case that unions cause prices to rise. Fedex vs. UPS would be a good example of that, in that UPS is more heavily unionized, but is still competitively priced to Fedex. Pro seems almost to have been unaware of the actual facts about the example he was the one to originally give.

More importantly, even if it was true, Pro hasn't given us a reason why that's necessarily bad; as I noted, slave labor would keep prices low, too, but Pro isn't advocating that. Sweatshop labor keeps prices low--but we don't, as a general rule, approve of sweatshops.

Pro has given 3 points in support of his resolution, and has not supported them in terms of facts, or philosophy.

As such, I believe the resolution stands negated.

I will say, as I have from the beginning, that there are improvements to the system, or even alternative systems altogether, that could be presented. I'm certainly not looking through rose-colored glasses; there are facts not here in evidence that could be used to demonstrate problems with labor unions, and can be used to discuss policy positions such as this one. Unfortunately, I urge Pro to do some research on this topic, and not just to find sound-bytes which support his position, but to find data for claims made from both sides. Perhaps his mind will change, perhaps not, but either way he will be more able to make his case if he knows more about the subject.

Thank you to Pro for the debate, and I turn it over now to the voters.

9 --
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by drafterman 3 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's assertions initially lacked support and, even when subsequently provided those sources failed to adequately support the assertions at hand. Minus sources, there was no logical argument tying the premises to the conclusion.