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In light of Obama’s ‘Employee Free Choice Act,’ Macleans has published a piece on the merits and vices of unions. If passed, the Act would require the National Labor Relations board to certify a union as the exclusive representative of bargaining unit employees if a majority of the bargaining unit employees signed cards. As it is now, employees can only unionize through closed-ballot elections.

After being held hostage in the recent 3 month labour dispute between the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and York University, and witnessing CUPE’s racist agenda, I’m not so into unions (to put it lightly).

While the conclusion the author draws is pretty lame (and unashamedly Canadian), the article is a good read:

Depending upon who you choose to believe, labour unions are either a central cause of North America’s current economic troubles, or the only viable escape from them.

Robert Reich took up the pro-union banner last week. In a column in the Los Angeles Times, the professor of public policy at UC Berkeley and former labour secretary under Bill Clinton argued that unions formed the bedrock of America’s economic emergence, and that their decline over the past two decades has coincided with the collapse of the typical American’s standard of living. Harkening back to the good ol’ days of poodle skirts and drive-ins, Reich explained that “good pay meant more purchases and more purchases meant more jobs. At the centre of this virtuous circle were unions.”

On the other side of the canyon, screaming across at Reich, is Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the staunchly conservative American Enterprise Institute and a former policy adviser to John McCain. In his view, unions are nothing but trouble. Hassett argues that the rapid increase in unionization during the 1930s prolonged and deepened the Depression as strikes shut down factories and drove up labour costs. Like many arch-conservatives, he seems to believe that the thirties wouldn’t have been nearly so dirty if only the Pinkertons had busted a few more unionist kneecaps. Today, he sees only inflated wages and inefficiencies in union workplaces, deepening the crisis, sending more jobs abroad.

In fact, a dispassionate look at the data suggests that both the pro- and anti-union arguments are wrong. But that won’t cool the blistering rhetoric on this issue—it’s only likely to heat up in the months ahead.

(Read the complete article: Are unions a blessing or a curse?)

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