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

Unions are not an economically efficient institution in the US anymore

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/25/2013 Category: Economics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 736 times Debate No: 35083
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




While unions were once very productive associations in American society, I argue they no longer deserve a relevant role in labor economics. Unions once provided a way for under-represented workers to voice opposition against employers with strength in numbers. They propagated the institution of many important employment laws, which are pillars of labor rights today. These include safety, hiring, firing, and wage conditions that were direly needed.

While the progress was highly useful in the past, these organizations are no longer economically productive in the American economy. It is essential to note that unions MAY still have positive impacts for members, almost exclusively in the form of job security and representation. The core of the argument suggests that unions are counterproductive to capitalism, and serve to limit individual success and benefits.

Thus, I will argue that unions are not a productive institution when applied to the economy, and some decentivize members and create higher inefficiency in our economy.


Before I launch into arguments, I have a question about which side of this you'd rather have me come from.

1. Unions ARE an economically efficient institution


2. Unions have NEVER been an economically efficient institution

I can make a case either way, but not both at once, obviously. Which approach would you prefer?
Debate Round No. 1


clockhart10 forfeited this round.


Alright, just for the heck of it, I'll get my case out there before this ends in forfeit for all.

Coming at it from the "Unions ARE efficient" angle, I suppose the big question has to be how we define 'efficient'.

A company that fires scores of employees, reduces the quality of their goods, and sells a bunch of their factories to make a gigantic profit in the very short term certainly COULD be thought of as "efficient". They've enhanced shareholder value in the short term, and if you just look at the graph of their profitability in that six month period, it's going to look on paper like they are kicking butt.

But the reality is that a company which does these things is going to have crushing blow back in the long term. People will stop buying their lower quality goods, they won't be able to meet what little demand there is without equipment or workers, so in the long term, they suffer.

Unions role in the US economy are very similar. It's true, that with collective labor in some industries, those industry's lose more in the short term to higher salaries, benefits, and sick time... but in the long term, they have healthier more productive workers who can keep them in business longer and keep them going as a business in the long term.

Look at six months of data, and Unions are a horrible thing. Look at 6 years and it's very different.

For instance, with higher wages, union workers themselves are able to be more powerful consumers, and as such help to drive the overall productivity of the economy, which, in turn, is generally good for the businesses they work for.

And what's the alternative?

We dump unions and minimum wage, right? Then the businesses have to start selling their products for less, because with wage stagnation comes less ability to purchase their goods and services. Then they have even less money to pay workers, who in turn have to live cheaper and cheaper. It's a giant race to the bottom, a vicious cycle, the end result of which, is to take the world's most robust economy and drive it down to the standard of Malaysia or China.

But it would be efficient in the short term. Point conceded there.

So...."yay", I guess?
Debate Round No. 2


clockhart10 forfeited this round.


I feel like this debate was sort of one-sided I guess?
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Noumena 5 years ago
Yeah I agree with Stephen's point. The resolution misses the point of most union activity.
Posted by Maikuru 5 years ago
I thought the title said unicorns =(
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 5 years ago
Trade Unions are not designed to be efficient. They are designed to be equitable.
Posted by bladerunner060 5 years ago
You do realize that there are still things such as "at-will" states, correct?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 1Historygenius 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: FF