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On balance, government employee labo unions have a positive impact on the united states

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/15/2010 Category: Education
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,904 times Debate No: 11526
Debate Rounds (3)
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Resolved: On balance, government employee labor unions have a positive impact on the United States.


The April Public Forum topic deals with the topic of whether or not unions of government employee laborers have a net positive impact on the United States.

Before examining both sides of the resolution, let's break down some basic terms.

In this context, a "union" is generally understood to be "an organization of employees formed to bargain with the employer; "you have to join the union in order to get a job". When employees are part of unions, the union negotiates on behalf of the collective group of employees/union members and to negotiate salaries/overtime and benefits (health care, vacation time, pensions, etc). A "pension" is essentially a salary that an employee draws for the rest of his or her life once he or she retires.

The resolution specifically refers to pubic employee labor unions. This specific reference is important because there is a large conceptual difference between a union of public employees (employees that work for a level of government – federal, state, or local) and a union of employees that work for a private company. The difference is that employees of a private company know that they can only ask for so much in wages/benefits or those will start to threaten the viability of the company. Government employees, however, can ask for almost anything that they can get, knowing that the bill will simply have to be paid by the tax payers.

The issue of public employee union wages and benefits being payed by taxpayers is what gives rise to this resolution. A declining economy/tax base is giving rise to growing government deficits that are being compounded by large obligations on the part of governments to pay (high) government employee union wages/benefits. This growing fiscal gap is increasing animosity toward public employee unions, and it is what likely gave rise to this topic and makes it timely.

The final important concept/phrase in the resolution is "on the United States." This is important to highlight because it keeps the question macro/large – what is the net impact of these unions on the country as a whole, not necessarily on individual states or counties (though these collective smaller impacts are what determine the "on balance" impact "on the United States."


I stand in affirmation of this resolution for some key reasons.
First, Public sector unions benefit workers
Unionization across the board is beneficial to workers that join them. Particularly in the Public sector, employees are given health insurance, pension plans, higher wages and job security. This in turn raises incentives for those in the labor force to get a job and work. Those workers who are unionized earn on average 30% more than workers who are not unionized. Also many studies have been conducted on the damages of unions to the economy or to companies in general, and the Economic Policy Institute finds that while these unions might cut down on profits they have no damaging effects. Considering the jobs that exist in the public sector, teachers, firemen, postal workers, and policemen to name a few, and the nature of their work the benefits they receive do not seem so outrageous. In fact we are rewarding these people for completing public services.

Second, Unions facilitate the democratic process
In the United States our core value is democracy and that every individual has a voice. When we look to the nature of unions one can see that they only further the democratic agenda of this nation. These unions allow for a collective voice of workers to be heard in large corporations, and in the public sector, our government. In an analysis done by the University of California Berkeley on the effectiveness of unions, the conclusion reached was unions close the gap between wage and profit. According to head professor of Education unions have pushed forth several key pieces of legislation that have bettered the labor situation of all Americans. Key examples include,OSHA, FMLA, and FLSA. They have added to the democracy and utilized that process to pass employee protections. Thus they are a positive impact.

Third, Public sector unions benefit education.
Considering that one of the largest government employee labor unions is the American Federation of Teachers it is only naturally that they would have an impact on education. This is duly noted by the CATO institute in a systematic study of teachers unions ad the effects on education. The study takes a look at the strength of each states teachers unions and the quality of education in those states. the interesting facts derived from this study were that in states such as New York ad Rhode Island where unionization rates were substantially larger the quality of education was also much better. This is directly linked to the incentives unionization provides for teachers, when wages are higher and there are more benefits obviously the job gets done better. When we compare unionization rates in New Jersey 66% to that of Georgia 10%, and then look at each states drop out rates we can see the effects of strong teacher unions. 10.8% drop out rate in New Jersey and 22.1% in Georgia. Thus these Unions have a positive impact.
Debate Round No. 1


Resolved: On balance, government employee labor unions have a positive impact on the United States.

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate.

I will present my points now and rebut my opponent's points in the last (3) round of this debate.

My first point is that government employee labor unions lead to a dramatic increase in job security that negatively impacts the public sector. The main example I would like to bring up is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or the AFSCME, which is the largest union in the public sector, at 1.4 million members. The AFSCME has been crucial in leading to reforms that make it nigh upon impossible to fire government workers. Through their effective lobbying for these reforms, they have also created laws that regularize the raises of workers, determine promotions almost solely on seniority, ignore the accomplishments of workers, etc. As a consequence of this, more and more under qualified workers are being introduced into the public sector that cannot be eliminated, which ends up costing the government more money to compensate for its lack of efficiency.

My second point is that these unions have led to a federal deficit of $1 trillion with respect to pensions. This can be directly attributed to the unions, who have continued to push for these pension increases despite the apparent fact that the United States government does not have the funds to afford these pensions.

My third point is that these unions have led to a massive imbalance in pay and benefits that has led to the growth of the public sector and the decline of the private sector, which is clearly harmful for the United States economy. This can be seen through data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which says that last year the public sector grew by around 16,000 employees, but the private sector lost millions of jobs. As the public sector has better pensions, better pay, and better benefits then the private sector, it has led to an extreme imbalance which has negatively affected the private sector and therefore our economy, as the private sector is responsible for all production within the United States.


Thank you, and I look forward to your rebut.


Antonio12 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


jingzhezhang forfeited this round.


Antonio12 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by jingzhezhang 7 years ago
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by anonymous9304 7 years ago
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