If we had no unions with their united strength, we would have unlimited hours of work, low wages, child labor wherever possible, speed-up and unsafe and dangerous working conditions. All these evils of the industrial system ahve been eliminated by workers united into unions and withholding their labor.
- Do you agree with that statement from a newspaper letter?
- Can you think of a way to test the statement or any part of it?
I do agree that unions have had somewhat of an effect on reducing such
evils of the industrial system. Sometimes it's been reduced by public demand for better employer behavior. Sometimes it's been reduced by government action. In some cases it hasn't been reduced much at all. I can't think of any way to test the effect of unions vs. the effect of other forces. All I can think of are problems with various methodologies of any study. For instance, comparing pre-union levels of these problems with post-union levels doesn't take into account the fact that the economy has expanded greatly over the last 100 years. More so than the number of workers has expanded. The demand for workers has thus increased and meaning they have much greater opportunity in industries without those listed evils. Comparing a union employer with a non-union employer doesn't take into account that a non-union employer in the same industry competes for the same general set of workers. So there's no control.