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Unions, the Economy, and Employee Free Choice

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Publication Date: February 2007

Publisher(s): Economic Policy Institute

Author(s): Harley Shaiken

Topic: Labor (Unions)

Type: Brief


This examination of the state of unionism in the United States is composed of four sections. In the first, titled the "Great Disconnect," I examine the broken link between the rise of productivity and stagnant or even falling real wages, a trend that has led to the growth of inequality. In the second section, "High Road," I explore the union advantage in wages and benefits and then look at the relationship between unionization and competitiveness. I argue that unions can provide a high road to competitiveness: a combination of higher productivity and better wages that result in a stronger economy. The third section is a historical snapshot that provides a brief overview of the Wagner Act, from its passage to today. Finally, I conclude this Briefing Paper with a discussion of the Employee Free Choice Act itself.