New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes in a recent op-ed that he has come around on labor unions, and now believes organized labor had, and continues to have, a critical role in combating rising income inequality.
Kristof on his change of heart:
“More broadly, I disdained unions as bringing corruption, nepotism and rigid work rules to the labor market, impeding the economic growth that ultimately makes a country strong.
I was wrong.
The abuses are real. But, as unions wane in American life, it’s also increasingly clear that they were doing a lot of good in sustaining middle-class life – especially the private-sector unions that are now dwindling.”
Kristof says he looked to the 1940s and 50s, when the economy was growing fast and high union membership allowed for shared prosperity. Today, only 6.6 percent of private-sector workers are union members.
Economists say unions boost wages of organized workers by roughly 20 percent and raise compensation, including both wages and benefits, by about 28 percent.
“This isn’t something you often hear a columnist say, but I’ll say it again: I was wrong,” wrote Kristof. “At least in the private sector, we should strengthen unions, not try to eviscerate them.”
Hear, hear, Mr. Kristof.