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What are some pros and cons of unionization?

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Quick Answer

Unionization fosters a strong middle class by providing workers with higher wages and more workplace rights and security, but can lead to the breakdown of meritocracy and impose expenses on employers that may make it difficult for them to compete. Individual workers must pay substantial fees to belong to a union, and workers with less seniority may be passed over for promotions despite their qualifications.

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Full Answer

Many of the benefits and rights enjoyed by most workers today, such as minimum wage, overtime and child labor laws, are the direct result of unionization. Union supporters argue that unions lead to greater job satisfaction and retention, which increase worker productivity.

However, some economic analysts argue that unions lead to job loss due to the costs to employers of wages and benefits that interfere with their ability to remain in business. Also, due to the job security and seniority-based promotions, critics charge that unions cause worker complacency that decreases their productivity. Some critics further contend that unions lead to cronyism that negatively impacts less senior workers.

Unions have lost political power as many states passed the right to work laws backed by corporate lobbyists, significantly reducing numbers of private-sector union members. Critics have increased attacks against public-sector unions, noting the high costs to taxpayers and the relatively higher wages of public sector employees compared to private sector employees.

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