Briefing Paper No. 39

Union Workers Should Support Social Security Privatization

Executive Summary

Union leaders have been among the most vocal opponents of privatizing Social Security. Their opposition is something of a mystery, because union workers would be among those who would gain the most if Social Security were transformed to a system of individually owned, privately invested accounts. Because a privatized Social Security system would provide a higher rate of return, union workers would receive far greater benefits than they would under the current Social Security system. In contrast, traditional Social Security fixes, such as raising payroll taxes, would severely harm union workers. Perhaps more important, privatizing Social Security would break down traditional barriers between labor and capital by giving workers a greater opportunity to own wealth-producing investments. In effect, every laborer would become a capitalist.

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Michael Tanner is a director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute and the director of the Institute’s Project on Social Security Privatization.