This House Would make memberships in labor unions compulsory


On December 8, 2021, Debating404 received a motion analysis request about a motion:

Hello! So the motion that I would like to request would be “THW make memberships in labor unions compulsory”. In this motion, we were opening opposition and I had a hard time prepping a case for opposition since I think for most debaters (or probably it’s just me), we have a liberal bias that labor unions are essentially good for workers especially if they are being exploited by their company. During the round, we just argued (in my opinion) generic arguments such as workers should have agency with their own lives especially when making decisions, infighting inside the union since not everyone is there voluntarily, and why making membership compulsory for every worker can reduce their financial mobility. Hence, I would just like to ask if you guys have any strategic arguments for opposition in this motion especially when government can just argue why this policy strengthens the labor union because there is power in numbers. That’s all, thank you! :>


This is Jen, and I think you had great reasonable arguments for the Opp. There’s nothing wrong with “generic” arguments, taking the most intuitive ones is usually always the way to go every time since it’s easier to convince someone when your lines of thought are intuitive.

There are three directions of improvement I can suggest for your case.

1. Framing

This can add importance to your existing claims and be a strategic move to capitalize on the principle clash.

No one can say a labor union will definitely result in good outcomes, because all policies are subjective. There is no one correct proportion of wages, working hours, etc. In the case of uncertainty, we always allow agency. The reason for that can be as follows:

  • It’s important to ensure people’s beliefs are conveyed correctly

This is why we allow people to abstain in voting. We should allow people to abstain here too.

  • People shouldn’t be responsible for more than what they owe

This is why we don’t tax 90% of the richest’s wealth, even though it’d probably reduce inequality. It’s because a good outcome is indefinite and they don’t owe it.
Here, they don’t owe anything to the labor union. If they work and treat people around them well, there is nothing more they owe.

2. A good comparative

If the labor unions were so good, people would join them anyway.

  • People are incentivised to maximise benefits and minimise harm, so if it does grant them better protections, they’re likely to join. If the benefits offered were so good, people would definitely consider the benefits more than the menial troubles of being in a labor union.
  • People are likely aware of all those considerations for a rational decision because there’s events and coworkers’ talk that give them all the information they need.

3. Exclusivity

  • Workers can join strikes without having to be in labor unions. So if an issue is major enough and people care about it, they can do this without being a member of the union.
  • It’s better on Opp because they’re protected from false accusations of complicity in case the labor union does sth wrong, because they’re not labeled as the average union worker, but they’re judged by which specific moves they choose to take part in and not take part in.
  • It’s also better because it allows freedoms for the arguments you’ve already given.

So in this case, I don’t think it’s necessarily about what kinds of arguments you give, but it’s about how you package them. Hope that helps!