are unions are a good thing?

economic policy institute, a think tank, has a bunch of reasons why unions are a good thing. they outline a bunch of findings from a bunch of different academic papers. in short
Unions have a substantial impact on the compensation and work lives of both unionized and non-unionized workers. This report presents current data on unions' effect on wages, fringe benefits, total compensation, pay inequality, and workplace protections.

here's two graphs. the gini coefficient is a measure of income inequality. the higher the number, the more inequality. the second graph is union membership in the US.

see how union member has gone down while inequality has gone up? interesting, eh? especially since unions tend to have more of a positive impact on blue-collar and low-income workers.

even the world bank, hardly a pro-union institution, put out a report called in which they find that overall unions are a good thing for both industrialized and developing countries.
At the macroeconomic level, high unionization rates lead to lower inequality of earnings and can improve economic performance (in the form of lower unemployment and inflation, higher productivity and speedier adjustment to shocks).

a capitalist institution such as the world bank putting out a report that is largly praising unions! it goes to show that there are some very valid criticisms of trade unions.
As capitalism entered its decadent phase, it was no longer able to accord reforms and improvements to the working class. Having lost all possibility of fulfilling their initial function of defending working class interests, and confronted with a historic situation in which only the abolition of wage labour and with it the disappearance of trade unions was on the agenda, the trade unions became the true defenders of capitalism, agencies of the bourgeois state within the working class. This is the only way they could survive in the new period. This evolution was aided by the bureaucratisation of the unions prior to decadence and by the relentless tendency within decadence for the state to absorb all the structures of social life.

The anti-working class role of the unions was decisively demonstrated for the first time during World War I when alongside the social democratic parties they helped to mobilise the workers for the imperialist slaughter. In the revolutionary wave which followed the war, the unions did everything in their power to smother the proletariat's attempts to destroy capitalism. Since then they have been kept alive not by the working class, but the capitalist state for which they fulfil a number of important functions:

- actively participating in the efforts of the capitalist state to rationalise the economy, regularise the sale of labour power and intensify exploitation;

- sabotaging the class struggle from within either by derailing strikes and revolts into sectional dead-ends, or by confronting autonomous movements with open repression."

finally, there is this well known economist being portrayed on youtube:

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