The weekend: Brought to you by the unions?


It’s prepackaged and ready to serve for your convenience! No, it’s not a quick solution to family dinner, it’s a canned response routinely given to rebut some libertarian idea.

Have you ever heard this one while talking about labor unions: “The weekend: brought to you by the unions!”

That’s supposed to stop you in your tracks if you’re not arguing in favor of something related to labor unions*. The implication is that without the unions fighting for time off for the weekend, working seven days a week would still be the norm. First of all, that’s really not even true. While it may be true that unions did fight for and win the battle to work fewer hours, the 5-day, 40-hour workweek became a feasible arrangement because technological advancements helped to greatly increase productivity. That increased productivity helped to offset the production losses due to time off.

Unfortunately, a lot of people will not buy that argument. Many would only respond with something like, “Noooo, that’s how what happened!” You are probably not going to get anywhere.

The real problem with this argument is that it does not actually make any sense.

Let’s concede that the 5-day work workweek would have been impossible without the labor unions fighting for them. So what does something that the unions did many years ago have to do with whatever a union is trying to do today? If that passes for justification, the next time someone criticizes you for doing something wrong, say, “Well, you know, I helped an old woman across the street five years ago.” Or tell a progressive that he should vote Republican because Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves.

Know how to defend your point of view. Know how to spot a nonsensical argument and call it out for what it is.


*I’m not suggesting that labor unions should not exist or that they never had (or currently don’t have) any value. Like anything else, it’s the partnership with the state that creates the problems.