Labor unions, most progressives believe, are essential institutions of a democratic industrial society. Particularly in the social democratic model that emerged after World War II unions played a crucial, dual role.
First, of course, unions served as direct instruments of industrial democracy. They fought to democratize the one major institution of modern society to which the revolution of democratic citizenship never extended—the
workplace. In the terminology popularized by Richard Freeman and James Medoff, unions enhanced not only workers’ bargaining power over wages but also workers’ collective “voice.”
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