Question of the day

By Megan McArdle

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?

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2007/09/question-of-the-day/2010/