Question of the day

Here's the question I've been pondering as I watched the strike unfold at GM. Many progressives argue that unions are a necessary counterweight to the bargaining power of employers. I tend to think that power is generally about equally balanced between workers and companies--some workers have a lot of bargaining power, and some a little, but I don't see the power as being particularly asymmetrically distributed between workers as a class and employers as a class. But that's not how progressives feel, and I doubt we'll change each other's minds.

What I find difficult to argue with is that few of the progressives I know ever seem to think that there are any situations where workers have too much power. Even in situations such as the New York City transit strike, where the workers clearly have an enormous amount of employer over their employer both as a bargaining unit and as a voting bloc, progressives always side with the union.

So here's the question of the day for my liberal commenters: can workers acquire too much power? Is there any situation in which you have thought, or can even imagine thinking, that union power might have to be dialed back?

Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her middle school. Then Humans of New York told her story to the Internet—and everything changed.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

Video

What Fifty Shades Left Out

A straightforward guide to BDSM

More in Business

Just In