The Instigator
Pro (for)
10 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
7 Points

That the Employee Free Choice Act of 2009 serves the best interest of the American people.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/18/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 955 times Debate No: 7890
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (3)




For the judge's sake, here is the act:


"As we enter the new millennium, the question is not whether we should fully reject or wholeheartedly embrace globalization. Instead the question is whether the disparate benefits and impacts of globalization can be reordered so that our trade agreements and labor law policies no longer serve to primarily benefit corporations at the expense of workers and communities in the U.S. and around the globe."

It is because the Employee Free Choice Act can answer the question that Kate Bronfenbrenner of Cornell University poses to us, that I affirm.

It is important to note, that the best interest of the American people is that which not only ensures economic stability but also freely acknowledges their constitutional and human rights. As a result, I shall focus the debate:

First: On how the EFCA eliminates unfair labor practices, creating a better working environment and improving upon the inadequacies of previous labor law.
Second: On how the EFCA promotes unionization, which strengthens the economy and increases global competitiveness.

Contention One: The EFCA promotes a better working environment by solving for the inadequacies of previous labor law.

Subpoint A: Current Labor Law is Broken.

The current process for unionization is a fundamentally flawed procedure. With no effective punitive sanctions for employers, the attempt to unionize a company is an almost futile one. Employers have various techniques which are implemented solely to demoralize and intimidate pro-union advocates, and to scare away any workers who are on the border as to what they support. Gordon Lafer of the University of Oregon writes, ""Because labor law lacks any punitive sanctions — no fines, no loss of license, no possibility of prison time — employers are free to break the law with near-total impunity. When an employer violates the law, the probability is that they won't get caught. If they do get caught, the worst sanction the NLRB can impose is for a second election. The employer wins the second election 96% of the time, so if you're an employer breaking the law – the odds to win are with you."

As a result, law breaking procedures and other coercive techniques are widespread. Kate Bronfenbrenner of Cornell University concludes that in 51% of unionization campaigns employers threaten to shut down part or all of a plants operations if the plant is unionized. Moreover, in 25% of campaigns employers illegally fire employees for supporting unionization. She furthers, "Union election win rates were significantly lower in units where plant closing threats occurred than in units without plant closing threats." It is apparent that these procedures are both widespread and serious. Lafer quantifies Bronfenbrenner's percentages, estimating that "In 2004, an estimated 15,400 employees were illegally fired, suspended, or otherwise financially penalized for supporting a union in an election context." At the point where over 15,000 individuals are severely penalized for exercising their autonomy, it is clear that the current system is broken.

Subpoint B: The Employee Free Choice Act fixes inefficiencies with the current system.

Quoting from the act itself, "Any employer who willfully or repeatedly commits any unfair labor practice [will] be subject to a civil penalty of not to exceed $20,000 for each violation." Right now the only penalty for illegal firing or suspension is a back payment of less than 3,000 dollars, so it's easy for employers to break the law. By creating a penalty close to 7 times higher, the incentive to break the law diminishes greatly. That's just a civil penalty, the price of back pay also goes up. The act continues, "if the Board finds that an employer has discriminated against an employee the Board in such order shall award the employee back pay and, in addition, 2 times that amount as liquidated damages." So they receive triple what they normally would, which helps to pay for the price incurred of losing their job, and the employer is penalized up to 20,000 dollars. Meaning that the price of breaking the law goes up a little over 10 times – from 2,750 dollars to 27,50 (ish… I don't want to do math) this is better for the employee, because there are less violations of law – and when there are, they receive adequate payment for the harm of breaking the law. The EFCA essentially eradicates unfair labor practices by the employer.

Contention Two: The EFCA promotes unionization, which strengthens the economy and increases global competitiveness.

Subpoint A: The EFCA promotes unionization.

Most estimates agree that the EFCA will increase union density by a large amount. AFL-CIO economist Sheldon Friedman estimates an increase in union density of 5%, Andy Stern, president of the SEIU estimates that union density will increase by around 10% by 2018, and Carter and Lotke support these findings. Moreover, a study by Chris Riddell of Cornell University reports in countries such as Great Britain, switching from the electoral process to the card-check lead to immense gains in union density.

Subpoint B: Unionization increases global competitiveness and strengthens the U.S. economy.

Dr. Paula Voos of Rutgers University went before the senate just last month to argue in favor of the EFCA. She writes, ""Unions…reduce turnover and [as a result] firm specific skills are retained [increasing productivity]. Another benefit is that turnover costs are lowered for employers. Since unions increase compensation, firms are incentivized to invest in new technology further increasing productivity. Unionized employers also tend to shift to higher value-added goods and services in their product mix." As a result, unions actually increase productivity. James Medoff of Harvard University, in an extensive study, concluded, "When the characteristics of workers most frequently associated with productivity differentials are held constant, unionized establishments are about 22 percent more productive than those that are not." Unions have a 22% increase on productivity, which, balances out or even overcomes the cost of higher wages.

Higher productivity leads to more money earned by the company, which benefits the stock, but also benefits the consumer because if the employer makes more money the price of goods drops. Economic Roundtable estimates that the wage increases caused by unions in Los Angeles ALONE has lead to the, "creation of 64,800 jobs and 51 billion in total sales." Because the price of goods is going down, more goods are being bought. When more goods are bought, employers can hire more employees – so instead of people losing jobs, more jobs are being created, more people can buy goods and they can buy them for a lower price.

To summarize the benefits unions have on the economy:
1)Creation of more productive firms, which generate more income for the company. A more productive company can sell goods at a cheaper price. This helps the consumer.
2)Once a company starts selling cheaper goods more people tend to buy these goods, as a result the stock goes up – helping the stock market on the whole.
3)When a company generates more income (through being more productive and more customers) they can create more unionized positions, giving more people jobs.
4)The unionized employee receives more money, increasing the United States' overall GDP.

It is because individual liberties within the workplace, and economic stability are both achieved through the EFCA that I urge you to affirm.


To begin, there is one thing that my opponent and I fundamentally agree on, and that is the fact that is the EFCA were to be passed it would severely increase the depth of U.S. labor unions. With that said, there is one thing that we fundamentally disagree on as well, and that is the impact that the increase of that depth would have on the American people. This will be important to understand throughout the debate, for the question is not whether or not the act will increase unionization, but rather what impact that unionization will have. I negate that the increase in depth will be in the best interests of the American people, and here's why:

1.) The EFCA will result in astronomical job-loss
2.) American union membership has declined dramatically since the 1950's, showing that it's clearly not what the American people want.

Contention 1: The EFCA will result in astronomical uncompensated job-loss.

Subpoint A: collective bargaining

one thing specifically mandated by EFCA is an easier access to bargaining agreements for employees to employers. bargaining agreements are basically where employees have a representative try and negotiate with the employer for better pay, conditions, ect. if they fail to come to an agreement, the EFCA mandates that an arbitrator from the union settle the matters regardless of the wishes of the employer.

Although this seems like it might be advantageous for the American worker, the results are opposite. An OECD study published in 1997 using data from 1980-1994 finds that a 1 percentage point increase in bargaining coverage unambiguously increases unemployment rates by 7.5 percentage(1)

as the statistics show, the more that bargain coverage is integrated and allowed within the United States through unions, the higher the unemployment rates in the united states. so sure, people may have better wages, at the expense of millions of jobs lost.

Subpoint B: Union membership to Job-loss Ratio
in her study AN EMPIRICAL ASSESSMENT OF THE EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT: THE ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS. noted economist Anne Layne-Farrar elaborates on the effects of unionization the U.S. economy concluding through her analysis that: " for every 3 percentage points gained in union membership through card checks and mandatory arbitration, the following year's unemployment rate is predicted to increase by 1 percentage point and job creation is predicted to fall by around 1.5 million jobs." she continues by concluding "...if EFCA passed today and resulted in an increase in unionization from the current rate of about 12% to 15%, then unionized workers would increase from 15.5 to 19.6 million while unemployment a year from now would rise by 1.5 million, to 10.4 million. If EFCA were to increase the percentage of private sector union membership by between 5 and 10 percentage points, as some have suggested, my analysis indicates that unemployment would increase by 2.3 to 5.4 million in the following year and the unemployment rate would increase by 1.5 to 3.5 percentage points in the following year."(2)

Logically by her empirical analysis, we can successfully conclude what kind of impact this EFCA would have on the economy; unprecedented job loss.

CONTENTION 2:American union membership has declined dramatically since the 1950's because of declining employment in unionized industries , showing that it's clearly not what the American people want.

according to the data and graphs given given by Hirsch in 2008(3), union membership in the U.S. went from an all time high in 1957 of 35%, to an all time low of about 9% in 2006, the last year for which data was recorded. It is plain to see that when Union memberships have decreased almost 27 percent in the past 50 years, that the American people see them as non-advantageous. This is due to the high declines in employment in heavily unionized industries.
Logically, the only way that unions can get better wages and conditions for these workers is through decreasing their supply of people who need to be employed. This is because insofar as businesses were paying more people to do less work, they are now paying less people higher wagers to do more work to keep competitive.
Noted economist Anne Layne-Farrar elaborates that"... EFCA supporters (my opponent included) contend that the unions' steady decline in the US is the result of employer misconduct that has been improperly permitted under US labor law. YET, the levels of unionized workers have declined everywhere in developed economies,regardless of the labor law regime in effect. For example, Visser analyzed data from 14 developed countries and concludes that private sector unionization across all countries has been strongly declining since the 1970s. A key factor in this trend has been the declining employment in heavily unionized industries – e.g., the US auto industry – which obviously has contributed to enormous decreases in union membership."(4)

At the point where people who are members of the Unions realize the that concept is flawed, is the same point at which we must negate.

I will conclude with this quote from Layne-Farrar's analysis.

" EFCA is unlikely to achieve its main goal of improving social welfare, which should take into account possible consequences not only for union members but for all other individuals, because the proposed rules would likely have detrimental effects on the unemployment rate and job creation. These are two adverse effects that America can ill afford at any time, but especially at this time of recession."

The proposed plan might have some good results for the small population of union workers, but insofar as we are debating about the acts impact on the American people, we must address the impacts on the American society as a whole. Because of the ridiculous unemployment rates that will result from this act, because of America's increased dislike of Labor Unions, and because of the overall inadequacy that Labor Unions provide for the America, we must negate.

all data taken from this article
(1)41OECD, EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK 1997 at 76; Nickell and Layard, supra note 38; Richard Jackman, Mass Unemployment: International Experience and Lessons for Policy, (London School of Economics, Center for Economic Performance Discussion Paper No. 152, 1993).
(2)Stefano Scarpetta, Assessing the Role of Labor Market Policies and Institutional Settings on Unemployment: A Cross-Country Study, 26 OECD ECON. STUD. 43 (1996); Stephen Nickell and R. Layard, Labor Market Institutions and Economic Performance, in HANDBOOK OF LABOR ECONOMICS (O. Ashenfelter and S. Card, eds. 1999).
(3)Source: Hirsch (2008), Data Appendix.
(4)Jelle Visser, Union Membership Statistics in 24 Countries, MONTHLY LAB. REV., Jan. 2006, at 38.
Debate Round No. 1


Alright, we'll start on the NEG - then we'll reinforce the Pro.


Subpoint A: Collective Bargaining

- Alright, it's important to note that "being covered by collective bargaining" and being unionized are the same thing. You can't be covered unless you're unionized. As a result, union density = collective bargaining coverage. That said, let's look to my opponent's source:

The OECD from 1980-1994 finds that union density -> unemployment. Let's look to a more recent source, "The OECD concluded in 2006 , ""The impact of union density on unemployment is statistically insignificant." (1) A more recent source by my opponent's same organization is obviously preferable to his data.

- In order to prevent this point from becoming a wash, I'll provide a secondary study enforcing my argument. Kate Bronfenbrenner, Labor Law expert of Cornell University writes, ""Of the original campaigns, in 1 percent the employer shut down all or part of the plant after the election was won. In the another 1%, the employer shut down all or part of the plant after the election was lost." (2)

Simply put, whether the union won or lost the election had ZERO impact on job-loss. The same amount of firms were forced into layoffs by market forces where there was NO union.

Subpoint B: Anne Layne-Farrar Study

- It's important to note methodological flaws with Layne-Farrar's study.

First: Her analysis of Canadian labor unions, while Bronfenbrenners is of unions in the U.S. this is the first reason you prefer the Cornell study.

Second: She only used data from THREE provinces, one of which, Newfoundland has historically high unemployment rates REGARDLESS of union density.

Three: She was commissioned by an Anti-Union organization to conduct her study, while Bronfenbrenner worked independently to publish her study in a labor journal.

You have no reason to accept a biased, flawed and irrelevant study over a relevant, relatively unbiased and effective one.

CONTENTION TWO: Unions have declined because of industry changes so people don't want them.

OK - it's important to note that the reasoning behind why unions have declined is insufficient to prove the second part of his contention, which is where he says "showing that's clearly not what the American people want." Reasons why unions have declined do not prove the American people don't want unions. In fact, the only real way to see what the American people want is to ask them. Peter D. Hart Research Associates conducted a survey, which concluded that, "Americans are strongly in favor of labor unions." Moreover, Americans strongly support the EFCA itself, with "73% saying they favor the legislation." (3)

- Next, let's look to the individual impact of employer coercion on unionization. While I agree to some extent that market forces can account for some of the decline of unionization, it is apparent that employers must shoulder some of the blame. He talks about how unions have declined in all markets, but that doesn't explain why unions have declined at a much faster rate in the United States than in other industrialized nations. (4) In the years my opponent gives, union density has shrunk 27% in the past 50 years - but in that same period, employer violations of labor law have increased 600%. (5)

- Finally, the impact of employer coercion on an election outcome is very clear. Kate Bronfenbrenner expounds, "Union election win rates were significantly lower in units where threats occurred than in units without threats." (2)


The points in the debate can be broken down into two main areas:

1st - The political impacts of EFCA. It is important to note that my opponent offers no real analysis into workplace politics, instead he ignore the political arguments and goes straight for the economic ones, while I provide you with reasoned political AND economic arguments. It is important to note that in this round, if economics becomes a wash (i.e. no clear way to vote) then one should vote PRO because this is the only side with political impacts. To summarize the political impacts of the PRO:

- The NLRA is insufficient in protecting workers. 51% of unionization campaigns employers illegally threaten employees in a campaign for unionization. Moreover, in 25% of campaigns employers illegally fire employees for supporting unionization. These numbers quantified result in an average of 30,000 unfair labor practices each year, and over 15,000 employees illegally punished for supporting a union.

- The EFCA is the only way to correct these flaws. My increasing the price of breaking the law 10 times, employers are largely disincentivized to commit these crimes. As a result, employer coercion is directly attacked and stopped with the EFCA.

2nd - Economic impacts.

- Observe, the only economic impact coming from the CON case is that of unemployment, but the PRO gives you three clear reasons to prefer the Cornell study to the clearly flawed Layne-Farrar study. Additionally, the OECD study presented by the CON is outdated, and is clearly refuted by it's modern counterpart, which concludes that the findings of the previous study are not applicable today.

- The PRO, on the other hand, is giving you several impacts:

1) Higher productivity. Unionized companies save 22% more money than nonunionized firms, counterbalancing the cost of higher wages, or, as it is in most cases, overcoming that cost. Higher productivity counteracting higher costs means that employers are NOT impacted by the passage of EFCA.
2) For the companies that earn excess money, the effects are clear. Employers can lower prices of goods, attracting more customers and benefiting the average american consumer.
3) All unionized firms which have any economic impact are firms which pay higher wages - higher wages means more money spent in the economy. Higher wages means higher GDP development.
4) More income means more taxes. Economic Roundtable estimates that LA unions generate over 7 billion in tax revenue on all levels of governments.
5) Those companies that benefit from unionization can employ more people - an example is the LA unions, where 65,000 jobs have been created.
6) As more people buy from companies, the stock of those companies will rise. This benefits the stock market on the whole, affecting all those who were hit hard by the credit crisis.

When voting in this round, it becomes clear:

The PRO gives you an uncontested political impact, and 6 economic impacts that the CON does not counteract. Instead, the CON provides a shoddy and biased unemployment argument, which does not hold up to cross-reference and further inspection.

I, like my opponent, end with a quote. Chief Justice Hughes once said:

"to safeguard the right of employees to self-organization and to select representatives of their own choosing for collective bargaining or other mutual protection without restraint or coercion by their employer. That is a fundamental right. Long ago we stated the reason for labor organizations. We said that they were organized out of the necessities of the situation; that a single employee was helpless in dealing with an employer; that he was dependent ordinarily on his daily wage for the maintenance of himself and family; that, if the employer refused to pay him the wages that he thought fair, he was nevertheless unable to leave the employ and resist arbitrary and unfair treatment; that union was essential to give laborers opportunity to deal on an equality with their employer."

My studies got cut off, here's citation:



masterzanzibar forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Read the Summary and Ending Quote of Round Two:

This is why I urge you to vote PRO.


masterzanzibar forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by Mickeyrocks 9 years ago
how am I losing..?
Posted by Mickeyrocks 9 years ago
fine by me
Posted by kungpao 9 years ago
haha would u like to debate your own case?
Posted by Mickeyrocks 9 years ago
Sure, if you'd like to challenge me we could debate, or if Masterzanzibar would challenge me.
Posted by kungpao 9 years ago
hey mickeyrocks.
can u debate once on con as well? i thought your input was really good.
Posted by masterzanzibar 9 years ago
I apologize Mickeyrocks, I have been studying like mad for AP tests and totally forgot. if you would like to debate this another time then i would be down my friend.
Posted by Mickeyrocks 9 years ago
It's fine, 5 days left :)
Posted by masterzanzibar 9 years ago
sorry it will take me a couple of days to write a case, I have a big lit test to study for + AP tests.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
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