Helping Big Labor Corral More Workers Into Unions: An Economic Anti-Stimulant

For years, scientific opinion polls have shown that Americans overwhelmingly oppose federal labor laws that empower union officials to represent all employees in a company unit and deny union nonmembers the right to bargain for themselves. But Organized Labor’s top priority in the 2009-2010 Congress, the inaptly named “Employee Free Choice” Act, would rewrite federal labor law to make it even easier for union officials to secure monopoly-bargaining privileges over employees.

Well aware that the American people oppose monopoly unionism, union officials are citing as the key reason for passing it its alleged value as an economic stimulant as the nation seeks to pull itself out of a recession. However, even a cursory look at the contrasting economic track records of states in which a relatively high share of employees are under union monopoly bargaining and states in which monopoly bargaining is relatively rare shows this case is phony.

The record shows that the prevalence of union monopoly bargaining is correlated with lower real incomes, higher living costs, slower growth in jobs and job benefits, and higher unemployment. The evidence is overwhelming that enactment of federal legislation that is designed to put millions of additional workers under union monopoly-bargaining control would be economically harmful, not beneficial.

If Congress really wants to help the U.S. economy recover and restore opportunities for employees and businesses, it should instead revise federal labor law to ensure that it respects the ability of each individual employee to choose whether or not to be represented by and furnish financial support for a labor union.

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