The debate about the Employee Free Choice Act presents a good opportunity to have a discussion about unions (particularly because OSU does not currently offer a labor economics class - gasp! - something I am actively trying to change). Unions are one of these issues that really divide economists. I am going to try (as I have before) summarize some of the recent economics literature on unions in the coming weeks, but for now a quick synopsis of the pro and con arguments made by economists.
[Full disclosure: I was once a Teamster when I was a UPS delivery person, but OSU faculty are not now represented by a union - though there is a discussion about changing that]
Con: They represent monopsony power that distort labor markets and lead to inefficient outcomes. This leads to higher unemployment and lower mobility.
Pro: Labor markets are asymmetric and employers have undue power over employees who find changing jobs costly - thus they do not necessarily yield efficient outcomes. Unions are an effective way to correct these imbalances.
Now I understand that there are lots of other things that I have not mentioned - but I invite you all to discuss unions and give me your reasons for and against in anticipation of my discussion of the economics literature.