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News from EPI NewsFlash: Productivity Blossoms With High Union Rates


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NewsFlash: June 20, 2007

Productivity Blossoms With High Union Rates

Some perpetuate the myth that unions hurt productivity. But today’s EPI Snapshot  disputes that myth and, in a comparison of the United States and Europe, shows that high productivity can exist with very high unionization rates.

EPI vice president Ross Eisenbrey examines productivity in several European countries, where the great majority of the workforce is covered by a union contract. The seven largest European countries with union density greater than 60 percent have had an average annual labor productivity growth of 1.7 percent since 1979. That equals the productivity growth in the United States, where only 12 percent of workers are unionized. Moreover, total output per hour worked – along with productivity growth – is higher in the Netherlands, France, and Belgium (where more than 80 percent of employees have union contracts) than in the United States.

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