Advancing a Free Society

Unions and the Obama Administration

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Are the Democratic-controlled Congress and President Obama very much pro union? Unquestionably. Do the economic effects of unions on the welfare of workers as a whole justify that union bias? No. Has their pro-union orientation seriously retarded the recovery from the recession? Probably. The following discussion tries to justify these answers.

The pro-union orientation has been demonstrated in many ways. Posner gives a few examples, and I will add some more. The automobile industry would not have been bailed out so generously were it not for the political power of the United Auto Workers. The alternative would likely have been bankruptcy without a federal bailout, which I favored. Bankruptcy without government involvement would have cut health and other fringe benefits of autoworkers more sharply, and might have led to more plant closings in the industry. It would also, however, have led to a more robust recovery of the surviving American auto companies, and possibly even in the longer run raised employment in auto plants located not in the South because wages and fringe benefits would then have been lower at these plants.

Continue reading Gary Becker on The Becker-Posner Blog…