February 10th, 2015
Last week, Vox's Matt Yglesias examined
a study that had a depressing outlook for the labor movement. Companies
that had recently unionized, economist Brigham Frandsen found, had lower average wages, employed fewer people and were more likely to go belly-up. Yikes!
it’s not usually a good idea to look at studies in isolation. There’s a
lot of other research that complicates the picture. And it’s actually
an important question: What good are unions, really? Are dues worth the
Although there’s not a lot of evidence on freshly
organized firms specifically, which Frandsen focuses on, there's no
clear reason why newly unionized firms shouldn't grow
to resemble those that have had unions for a long time (granted, in some
sectors with very low union density, being unionized could put a firm
at a disadvantage -- but there can be productivity gains as well, so
death isn't inevitable). And the research there suggests that you’re
still better off as a union member than not.