The argument against unions — that they unduly burden employers with unreasonable demands — is one that corporate America makes in good times and bad, so the recession by itself is not an excuse to avoid pushing the [card-check] bill next year. The real issue is whether enhanced unionizing would worsen the recession, and there is no evidence that it would.
There is a strong argument that the slack labor market of a recession actually makes unions all the more important. Without a united front, workers will have even less bargaining power in the recession than they had during the growth years of this decade, when they largely failed to get raises even as productivity and profits soared. If pay continues to lag, it will only prolong the downturn by inhibiting spending.
In a striking example of corporate hardball, the New York Times Co. has threatened to shut down one of its journalistic jewels, the Boston Globe, unless the New England paper’s unions agree to sweeping concessions.