Are Labor Unions Beneficial to American Society?

In the past few months, the U.S. economy has faced labor shortages in multiple sectors. With workers in high demand, labor unions can be said to have increased influence, and therefore have increased leverage. In turn, Americans have debated a question that stretches back to the 19th century: Are Labor Unions Beneficial to American Society? 

Those who argue that labor unions are beneficial to American society contend that they ensure that workers are treated fairly. They believe that without them, workers would not be able to have any power to bargain with employers for increased safety measures and fair pay. They argue that the widespread protection for workers’ rights in modern America is largely a result of labor unions’ hard work in the 19th and 20th centuries. Finally, they may claim that the current supply chain issues that the United States faces have nothing to do with labor unions. 

 Those who argue that labor unions are not beneficial to American society contend that they are harmful to both American workers and consumers. They argue that unions’ pushes for higher wages end up causing increased unemployment as employers have to lay off workers or find alternate ways to serve customers like robots and machines to carry out labor in order to make profits. Additionally, they claim that this also hurts consumers, who must pay higher prices when unions bargain for higher wages. Finally, they may contend that labor unions—especially now—contribute to supply chain issues by slowing down work in order to force employers to bargain with employees. 

 So, what do you think? Are Labor Unions Beneficial to American Society? Students can argue Yes, they are; No, they are not; or a nuanced answer in between! Be sure to submit your answers by November 9th to be considered for this week’s competition. 

Note: Ideal Think the Vote responses include the following:

-Address the question asked in a thoughtful and meaningful manner

-Use cited facts and constitutional arguments when appropriate to support their answers

-Are expressed in cohesive sentences and are free of distracting spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors

-They address counter-arguments and opposing concerns in a respectful manner

-They organize their answer in a manner that flows logically and reads clearly

 

Current Standings:
Yes: 72%
No: 28%
  • Isabella from Texas

    I think that labor unions are benefical to American society. As strikes following the burdens of a COVID-19 affected economy sweep the nation, workers are showing that they are not as expendable as their employers seem to treat them. An article by the New York Times details how the staggering growth of the job market is feeding into the worker outrage: “The latest jobs report from the Labor Department showed the U.S. added just 194,000 people to payrolls in September, the smallest gain this year.”(Shanker, 2021). If workers go on strike and are able to press for higher wages, the standard of treatment of workers will increase, and more people will begin to want to work, helping boost the slipping economy. With less jobs available and a feeling of mistreatment of the workers we’ve called essential over the past year, the ability for those workers to be able to unionize and respond to the changing economy by going on strike is not only beneficial to American Society, it’s essential.

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    I think that labor unions are benefical to American society. As strikes following the burdens of a COVID-19 affected economy sweep the nation, workers…

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  • Taylor from Illinois

    Labor unions are beneficial and increasingly important to American society. Companies today often treat workers as if they are expendable no matter how important their job is. Without the presence of unions, it is easy for companies to replace striking workers. This makes it so that the company faces no repercussions and they have no incentive to make changes to what caused the strike. Unions provide protections for workers and can raise wages. According to The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, unionized workers make on average $191 more per week than their nonunion counterparts. Through collective bargaining, workers can negotiate contracts that include higher wages, benefits, better health and safety policies, leave, and more. Collective bargaining is especially prevalent now with the pandemic impacting so many workers. By providing better working conditions and livable wages,more people will be incentivized to work which will help our economy grow. At the moment it is very difficult to negotiate with employers. This is why companies need to listen to their employees and create better working conditions and environments where it is possible for employees to speak their minds and have actions to follow through with their complaints and have them addressed. This becomes even easier with a union because a union representative can speak on your behalf so push back from an employer is less likely. Overall, unions are extremely beneficial to workers as well as American society as a whole.

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    Labor unions are beneficial and increasingly important to American society. Companies today often treat workers as if they are expendable no matter ho…

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  • aaniya from Texas

    In my opioion Unions are good for all workers. They improve wages, benefits, and working conditions, and helped create the middle class. Unions raise wages for all workers. Unions paved the way to the middle class for millions of workers and pioneered benefits along the way, including paid health care and pensions.

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    In my opioion Unions are good for all workers. They improve wages, benefits, and working conditions, and helped create the middle class. Unions raise …

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  • Megan from Illinois

    Labor unions have been a key part of society since the mid-19th century when they began to form and grow. Labor unions spawned from the social and economic impact from the Industrial Revolution. Labor unions work to negotiate better wages, affordable health care, job security, and a stable schedule. According to AFL-CIO.org, Unions have seen a significant increase in better wages, benefits and much more. In fact, from the work of labor unions, union members receive $191 more per week than their nonunion counterparts (AFL-CIO.org). Not only do labor unions help to increase wages and implement better wages, but they also create a safer and more comfortable workplace. Union members feel safer in their workplace because their union representatives work on their behalf. If someone were to have a problem with their employer, the union representative would help balance the power between the boss and the employee. In a non-union situation, employees have to contact the company’s human resources for assistance, which is a department in the company(UWUA.net). This can make the employee feel very vulnerable and less likely to reach out for help. The fact that union members have access to union representatives makes them more willing to reach out for help, thus making the workplace feel safer and more comfortable. Finally, unions help increase political participation in America, which ultimately impacts society significantly. According to John S. Ahlquist, profesor at School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California San Diego, Unions provide social experiences to encourage workers to be more politically engaged and active citizens. They do this by forming strikes and protests, and endorse candidates and policies that they agree with (Ahlquist, 2017). Labor unions are extremely important in American society as they help improve wages, benefits and much more. They also help improve political participation in American democracy.
    Nevertheless, labor unions can have negative impacts on American society as well. Labor unions tend to discourage individuality. According to hrexchangenetwork.com, workers are tied to the decisions of the union, making it hard for them to disagree. In some cases, the only way a union employee can escape a situation is to resign, which many can not afford to do (Stevenson, 2018).
    Overall, I believe that labor unions positively impact American society in many ways.

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    Labor unions have been a key part of society since the mid-19th century when they began to form and grow. Labor unions spawned from the social and eco…

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  • Olivia from Illinois

    Labor unions are beneficial to American society for multiple reasons Without labor unions how are American workers supposed to fight for a living minimum wage, equal pay And working conditions. I believe that labor unions are essential in keeping the workplace a fair and equal environment. Labor unions in American society help to combat unequal working conditions. While it can be acknowledged that the system for labor unions isn’t perfect, it is a system that bettors millions of lives by promoting fair minimum wages and equal pay so that American citizens are able to live a life that the American dream displays Another reason why I believe that labor unions are essential to American society is because it helps American workers stand up for what they believe in and form a community within the union. Furthermore, this helps to improve working conditions and wages because labor unions are allowing American workers to stand up for what they believe in and fight for what they want. My final reason as to why labor unions are beneficial to America is because when American workers stand up for what they want and what they believe this allows other people to listen which can help improve relationships within society so that instead of tearing others down we are building each other up and making Society better as a whole.

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    Labor unions are beneficial to American society for multiple reasons Without labor unions how are American workers supposed to fight for a living mini…

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    • Jeri from Texas

      I believe that unions are good for all workers. They improve wages, benefits, and working conditions, and helped create the middle class. Unions raise wages for all workers. Unions paved the way to the middle class for millions of workers and pioneered benefits along the way, including paid health care and pensions

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      I believe that unions are good for all workers. They improve wages, benefits, and working conditions, and helped create the middle class. Unions raise…

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  • Lindsey from Illinois

    Labor unions are beneficial to American society through their encouragement of members to participate in the democratic process.
    Democracy’s basic principle is being ruled by the people. Unions give workers a voice at their place of employment and in politics. According to americanprogressaction.org, “Relatively few people participate spontaneously in politics but rather are likely to take action when groups such as unions mobilize them to do so” (americanprogressaction.org). Unions encourage political participation since they organize their members and educate them on politics and have members work together on platforms that affect them. Unions also hold candidate forums and campaign for candidates that promote the values of unions and their workers. Unions increase voter education by bringing in candidates to speak and advise on their platforms in order to educate union members. Additionally, unions also help nonmembers get involved in politics because notifications of speakers and other political information is often shared in the workplace. So, unions have been a key part in getting important legislation passed in America. They have helped improve the minimum wage, social security, and health care coverage. Overall, labor unions drive people who would not have been part of the political process and therefore would not have participated in the democratic process, which results in benefiting American society.
    However, some may say that labor unions are not beneficial to American society, and that labor unions actually hurt democracy by using practices that violate the National Labor Relation Act (NLRA). Labor unions could be seen as detrimental to society because of their use of undemocratic practices. Frequently, officers and members can have the intent to interfere with commerce by preventing the production or movement of goods through strikes and other forms of civil unrest which hurt the interest of the public (nlrb.gov). These union practices are used solely to benefit themselves rather than society as a whole. Unions could also be accused of using propaganda, information that is biased to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view, to promote objectives for themselves rather than society as a whole.

    References
    https://www.epi.org/publication/unions-help-reduce-disparities-and-strengthen-our-democracy/

    https://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/economy/reports/2012/01/25/10913/unions-make-democracy-work-for-the-middle-class/

    https://www.uniontrack.com/blog/unions-mobilize-voters

    https://www.americanprogress.org/article/issue-brief-unions-are-good-for-the-economy-and-democracy/

    https://www.nlrb.gov/guidance/key-reference-materials/national-labor-relations-act

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    Labor unions are beneficial to American society through their encouragement of members to participate in the democratic process.
    Democracy’s b…

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  • L from Maryland

    I’m actually against American society, but there wasn’t an option that would have indicated that. Regardless, unions improve workers’ wages and working conditions, and prevent management from abusing its power.

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    I’m actually against American society, but there wasn’t an option that would have indicated that. Regardless, unions improve workers’ wages and …

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  • Lauren from Texas

    Labor Unions are beneficial to American society. Labor unions help workers with fair pay, and increased security measures, all together, a better working environment. Not everyone gets the same benefits as other workers do. According to unionplus.org, compared to non-union workers, 92% of Union workers have job-related health coverage while 68% of non-union workers do not. Union workers are also likely to have guaranteed pensions. Non-union workers and Union workers have different benefits. American society would be better off with labor unions for better advantages.

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    Labor Unions are beneficial to American society. Labor unions help workers with fair pay, and increased security measures, all together, a better work…

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  • Madeline from Texas

    Labor Unions are beneficial to American society. Labor Unions allow workers to get a better stability in their work environment and overall help them. Accoding to Ep.org, Labor unions are more likely to be covered by employer-provided health insurance. Union employers also contribute to more of their employee’s health care benefits and these employers pay 86% of workers’ health care premiums while non-union employees can only play 79%. People should advocate for labor unions because they heavily benefit the work force. With a well-working workforce with labor unions, American society would improve.

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    Labor Unions are beneficial to American society. Labor Unions allow workers to get a better stability in their work environment and overall help them….

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  • Srimon from Texas

    I believe labor unions would benefit America. This is because workers would be able to express their stances and show society what changes would help to improve working conditions and more. They would also make sure that workers have are able to stand up against any problems with their pay or conditions of their workplace.

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    I believe labor unions would benefit America. This is because workers would be able to express their stances and show society what changes would help…

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  • Majdal from Illinois

    Labor unions are essential in keeping the workplace fair, and are the foremost tool in combatting unfair wages and poor working conditions. Democracy should be valued not just in the government, but in the workplace as well, and unions are the means through which the democratic processes of the workplace can be realized. If history has shown anything it’s that change happens from the bottom – and any effective change must be deliberated and executed though an organized body . Unions across the country have been at the frontier of promoting humane labor laws, such as banning child labor, standardizing the 8-hour work day, and establishing a minimum wage, laws that we today would consider to be common sense and for the common good. But despite having proven their ability to better millions of lives, the system isn’t perfect, and this is demonstrated by unions that are still going on strike today, as well as the rising disparity between growing living costs and the stagnant minimum wage. Therefore they must retain their place in American society.

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    Labor unions are essential in keeping the workplace fair, and are the foremost tool in combatting unfair wages and poor working conditions. Democracy …

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  • Rhiannon from Iowa

    Labor unions are okay, they offer a support system for the workforce in the United States. As long as they aren’t government controlled I support it.

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  • Savannah from Iowa

    I feel like the people that are working now are fair for the most part because they are getting paid for working while some people are not working. I feel like all the people that are not working should not receive money because they are not working hard like the people that do have jobs. The U.S. is short on people working because the government is paying people for unemployment because of the whole covid thing so if people don’t work they don’t need the money.

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    I feel like the people that are working now are fair for the most part because they are getting paid for working while some people are not working. I …

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  • Madi from Iowa

    Labor unions in the United States have recently become important as employers need to ensure the well being of their employees. The employees are active in labor unions in order to properly be provided for by their employers. Labor unions have been important in the past to get equal rights for all workers, and they should be kept in America in order to help keep workers’ rights as many of them are replaced by machines or technologies.

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    Labor unions in the United States have recently become important as employers need to ensure the well being of their employees. The employees are acti…

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  • Cassady from Iowa

    Labor unions have been beneficial to the United States for years in the past. Throughout all the time that unions have been around they there have not been issues like the ones that the country is facing now. If unions were to blame for the shortages and such then that would mean this shortage should have been around the whole time that the unions are around. Unions could cause problems if they request way too much for a company to pay, but that has not been a common occurrence with unions, so it is not fair to chunk all unions together because a couple have gotten out of hand.

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    Labor unions have been beneficial to the United States for years in the past. Throughout all the time that unions have been around they there have not…

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  • Emile from Iowa

    Labor Unions are important because they must be providing jobs for people. It is also mentioned in the reading that people believe without labor unions, people wouldn’t be treated fairly among others in other types of jobs. It is also important that there is a safe place for people in the work force who need to be making money.

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    Labor Unions are important because they must be providing jobs for people. It is also mentioned in the reading that people believe without labor union…

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  • Emma from Iowa

    Labor unions are beneficial to the economy because they ensure that people will have a voice. Often times, discrimination of any sort occurs in work place, and many people feel as though they are not able to speak out. Labor unions should continue throughout America because they help push and educate people about the inequalities occurring in different areas of work.

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    Labor unions are beneficial to the economy because they ensure that people will have a voice. Often times, discrimination of any sort occurs in work p…

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  • Jacob from Iowa

    I believe that labor Unions are important because without them the employer would have complete control leaving workers to poor working conditions and lower pay. I do believe that Unions can cause issues but overall I believe that there are more pros then cons.

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    I believe that labor Unions are important because without them the employer would have complete control leaving workers to poor working conditions and…

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  • Anthony from Iowa

    Labor unions fight for the rights of the working people, make it so everyone is paid fairly, and give us benefits for the work we do

    0
  • Liv from North Carolina

    Though labor unions have recently started offering low rates of protection to employees (1), they can be very beneficial in the long-run. They can help set standards, especially when it comes to education, skills, working conditions, and ethics. The benefits union workers receive tend to be more helpful than non-union workers by providing more protection and financial help (2). Without labor unions, it would be more difficult to negotiate with employers.
    There are many labor union organizations that are available for different career fields and are used to protect employees. Union AFL-CIO is known to work well with employees with one of their main goals being environmental safety. They stated that when labor costs more, employers are more likely to invest more for their workplace conditions, and this can help keep their employees around longer and not have them feel like they’re “disposable.” (3a) These unions can also be helpful when it comes to collective bargaining which helps negotiate the wages and other conditions of employment. If there is an unsafe aspect about a company, a group of workers can band together to pressure the company into recognizing it. (3b)
    It’s already quite hard to negotiate with employers, especially when a labor union isn’t available. If only one person recognizes an issue and cannot convince anyone else to look more into it, bringing it up with the authority would be less-likely to help prevent any problems. The issue needs to be seen as “popular” in order for it to be understood and noticed because companies are largely focused on their reputation. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of labor unions has decreased causing less benefits.
    According to Celine McNicholas, et al of the Economic Policy Institute, more people have been laid because they asked for paid sick leave and mentioned their health concerns. This is an example as to why these unions can be important because if some had been available, our unemployment rate would probably not be as low as it is. (4)
    However, it is argued that labor unions can cause more unemployment, and that is the reason for the low percentage of workers. It’s said because there has been more of an increase in computerized employees, but it doesn’t actually seem like they have anything to do with the unions. The main goal of a labor union is to give employees the opportunity to feel safe and work harder, and if one is unavailable then less people would be working. Though the argument isn’t invalid, the connection between computerized workers and labor unions is unclear.
    Labor unions do more good than harm when it comes to the respect of employees from employers. Some employers could begin to feel pressured from these unions, but in the end, their workers are safer, working harder, and happier. Not only that, more people are likely to apply to that job which can prevent underemployment.

    References

    1. https://www.epi.org/publication/why-unions-are-good-for-workers-especially-in-a-crisis-like-covid-19-12-policies-that-would-boost-worker-rights-safety-and-wages/

    2. https://www.iuoe.org/about-iuoe/union-faqs#:~:text=Unions%20are%20important%20because%20they,quality%20of%20life%20for%20workers.&text=Unions%20also%20work%20to%20establish,national%2C%20state%20and%20local%20level.

    3. a.https://uwua.net/what-are-the-benefits-of-being-a-union-worker/#:~:text=When%20labor%20costs,competitive%20advantage%20commercially.

    b.https://uwua.net/what-are-the-benefits-of-being-a-union-worker/#:~:text=Collective%20bargaining%20is,the%20union%E2%80%99s%20attention.

    4. https://www.epi.org/publication/why-unions-are-good-for-workers-especially-in-a-crisis-like-covid-19-12-policies-that-would-boost-worker-rights-safety-and-wages/

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    Though labor unions have recently started offering low rates of protection to employees (1), they can be very beneficial in the long-run. They can hel…

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  • Lauren from Illinois

    Labor unions are no longer beneficial to American society due to the numerous laws already passed in favor of workers. Moreover, they are no longer needed and there was a lot of corruption in unions in the past. One can definitely say that because of labor unions, we got these laws that have been established. For example, companies are required to pay employees who work extra hours overtime pay and have to give sick and personal days. Labor unions now only demand more and more from the American government. Laws in which were put in place by the people to and for the people passed due to the push from people that could not be ignored by our government’s representatives. Furthermore, I do not think that labor unions are beneficial to the American Economy. I believe that they encourage people to work from home or to not work at all and find other things to support their lives. Our current supply shortage and worker shortage are the results of many things that have gone wrong in our country. However, labor unions have made people believe that they need higher wages and will not compromise with those that are above them. Unions simply do not provide the economic benefits that their supporters claim they provide. They are labor cartels, intentionally reducing the number of jobs to drive up wages for their members. In competitive markets, unions cannot cartelize labor and raise wages. Companies with higher labor costs go out of business. To further my point, unions are not free. This itself should say a lot. Unions may also pit workers against companies, which could cause some tension in the workplace. To add on to this, some workers may be afraid to speak up with their true wishes, which means unions can discourage individuality. Finally, unions can cause businesses to have to increase costs all around to pay workers more.

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    Labor unions are no longer beneficial to American society due to the numerous laws already passed in favor of workers. Moreover, they are no longer ne…

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  • will from Virginia

    are labor unions useful to the American economy, public, and work environment? I believe that work unions are no longer beneficial to the American workplace due to numerous local and federal laws that protect workers’ rights. for example companies are required to pay employees who work extra hours overtime pay and have to give sick and personal days. at this point in time unions do not help the american worker. the mass protesting with labor unins for slightly higher pay in theory loses the workers money as they do not get paid to protest. this also affects other people and can in times affect an entire industry. for example when california teachers went on strike the entire education system was down for 6 days and the district lost 100 million dollars of funding. not only that but the teachers who ended up losing 3% of their salary settled for the same deal that was offered before the strike. this means that the teachers lost money, delayed the education of children, and caused funding for the schools to drop. this was all directly related to their strike and their union. if they could not unionize then that would not have happened because everyone who participated would be fired. unions will not protect an employee as much as they may think they do. in most industries experience is essential and getting rid of an employee for an injury would be stupid. overall labor unions cause problems for the company, public, and employees.

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    are labor unions useful to the American economy, public, and work environment? I believe that work unions are no longer beneficial to the American wor…

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  • Sabrina from Montana

    labor unions are no longer of benefit to america due to the numerous laws already passed protecting workers and there salaries. labor unions now only demand more and more from the american government.

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    labor unions are no longer of benefit to america due to the numerous laws already passed protecting workers and there salaries. labor unions now only …

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  • Chancellor from Texas

    I believe that worker are not benififted enough with the labor unions, but in fact the are harmed. As people are going foward with higher wages people start to see higher unemployment rates. THey are caused by being layed-off or having to find alternate ways of earning money . By using robots and other electonics to earn money. With in the end hurts the consumer.

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    I believe that worker are not benififted enough with the labor unions, but in fact the are harmed. As people are going foward with higher wages people…

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  • Gavin from Texas

    In my opinion, labor unions are detrimental to the american society because of the effect it has on American workers. When labor unions raise their wages in order to make a bigger profit they end up using machiens and robots to do workers job. They end up paying people who work on the robots and not people who due the work by hand, the labor unions qould rather pay 3 people who work on robots $10 than to pay one person $15-$30 for doing the work by hand.

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    In my opinion, labor unions are detrimental to the american society because of the effect it has on American workers. When labor unions raise their wa…

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  • Micah from Iowa

    No, due to the fair and favrable laws put in place by our government. In this day and age we can not be giving powers to a people who in turn in some way may use this out of its constrocts of buliding. Laws in which were put in place by the people to and for the people passed due to the push from people that could not be ignored our governments represenitives.

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    No, due to the fair and favrable laws put in place by our government. In this day and age we can not be giving powers to a people who in turn in some …

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  • Mikayla from Iowa

    I do not think that labor unions are beneficial to the American Economy. I believe that they encourage people to work from home or to not work at all and find other things to support their lives. Our current supply shortage and worker shortage are the results of many things that have gone wrong in our country. However, labor unions have made people believe that they need higher wages and will not compromise with those that are above them.

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    I do not think that labor unions are beneficial to the American Economy. I believe that they encourage people to work from home or to not work at all …

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  • Jena from Iowa

    I believe that labor unions have grown so much to the point where it hurts American society. The labor unions have had many beneficial cases in the past, but it has grown to be a lot more than just helping out workers. Prices have increased too much which has forced consumers to buy their needs elsewhere. Employers have had to lay off their employees because they have tried to fight for a higher pay. The employees are then turning to labor unions and wanting their job back, but the employers financially cannot support having those employees at that specific wage.

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    I believe that labor unions have grown so much to the point where it hurts American society. The labor unions have had many beneficial cases in the p…

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