The Work Stoppage: A Dinosaur or a Lady in Waiting?

Source: Willis J. Norlund, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 61 no. 3, Fall 2010
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While some observers of our Nation’s history would place greater emphasis on the role of the entrepreneur and capital as explaining the fabulous character of our economic growth, at the core of economic growth is the American worker. There is room for entrepreneurial talent and the creation of capital resources in the equation, but without a strong, highly productive labor force, those two factors would have little relevance. A third element that is frequently ignored or denigrated is the labor union. In fact, many would argue that labor unions have impeded economic growth, not expanded it. This article is not focused on this debate directly, because the arguments against unions are well known. There are, of course, arguments that support union formation and that unions enhance productivity and economic growth, while couched in economic terms, the real basis for most of the arguments on either side are philosophical, not economic. If a person dislikes unions, they can find numerous reasons for doing so and if one supports unions there are equally as many arguments….

…This study suggests that strikes make a difference; that workers have no power without the strike tool; that a long-term fully functioning capitalistic economy required that all participants benefit from a fair distribution of income; that strikes are rare today, not because all of the problems in the workplace have been resolved, but because government and industry have marginalized American unions and taken the right to strike away from unions and the American worker. It may be the appropriate time for American workers to reconsider the formation of a labor party.

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