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MORE BARGAINING POWER FOR WORKERS

    

    Many strikes are happening right now all over the world. Workers are fighting with employers for better working conditions, better benefits (or benefits at all), higher wages, or to stop increasing work hours. The fact is that these issues are present because of one reason: the system we live in gives more bargaining power to the employer than the employee. And the reason is simple: If one employer has the option to choose from 2 potential employees, these 2 individuals will compete with each other in order to get the job, usually by accepting lower wages, fewer benefits or lower working conditions (sometimes the three of them are impacted at the same time). That’s why some unemployment is beneficial for companies. It leaves people competing for jobs and that competition keeps labor costs low for companies, since these unemployed people will be willing to take any job at any wage in order to get at least some income. 

    Even if these strikes were to be successful and minimum wage is increased, inflation will make that increase obsolete, and in 10 years, the battle to increase the minimum wage will begin again, perhaps again for another 40 years. This situation could be avoided by indexing Minimum Wage to inflation, but, what if we take a different approach? What if we reverse the situation and have two employers compete for one single potential employee? In this scenario the employers will now compete with each other, and the one that will have more bargaining power in this scenario will be the potential employee, thus translating into better wages, better working conditions, and better benefits.

    This reduction , however, must be made gradaully  in order to avoid inflationary forces. Having people choose what to do with their increases in productivity (either to earn more income or work less amount of time) is the right path to gradually reduce the wrok-day, not by a legislation but by the decision of workers who choose to do it. 

    Of course, one cannot deny the weight that strikes have had in history. The first reductions to the work day in the mid 1800s and early 1900s were adopted via strikes. Although Unions are not as powerful as they once were, denying a strike as an option would be like denying history and the importance of organized individuals to prompt positive change for workers. 


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