We hyperfocus on growth at the expense of other aspects of our economy. If you create consumer goods but systematically depress the wages of the consumers who buy the goods, eventually you've cannibalized your source of revenue. Similar to how cancer cells are hyperfocused on growth at the expense of working within the systems they're assigned.
I don't see how the economic wellbeing of workers is in need of justification.
In a free market, workers would be able to find other employment if their company treats them poorly. In reality, the demise of the free market here hasn't been hastened by "cancerous" management, determined to "screw the workers over" ... it has been hastened by rent seeking behaviors of the unions, driving costs up. Which has resulted in said management looking for ways to control/lower costs.
Such as moving labor intensive work to a) lower cost areas, and now b) automating to the point of which you no longer need many workers.
Those are all cost based decisions. No one, that I am aware of in management, is twisting their mustaches saying "if only I could find some way to screw my workers over even more". Everyone in management is being asked "how can I increase productivity as measured in producing more widgets per unit cost, or reducing the unit cost to produce each widget?".
Unions do not reduce cost per widget. They do not increase productivity in terms of more widgets per unit cost. They simply increase costs. Which drives the conversations on how to reduce costs. Move factory. Automate.
Take an industry with net margins of a few percent at best (most industries), and have one portion of their cost structure increase to remove a material fraction of that margin. The company owners (stock and bond holders) would be all over that board to find a way to reduce costs.
The darkly ironic aspect of this, is that 401k's and/or pension funds (defined benefit is going away in favor of defined contribution) that may be part of a comp program for union and non-union folk, are likely investing in these companies, making these demands upon them, to increase their profitability. That is, the union worker has competing antithetical goals at play that cannot be simultaneously satisfied.
Yeah, it would be nice to pay everyone a wonderful wage, have no poverty, no hunger, etc. The moment an industry player says "yes we are going to raise our prices to pay our people more money", is when their competition comes in and says "but we will charge less" and takes their business.
If you don't cannibalize your own revenue, your competitors surely will. Amazon is doing an incredible job of this, in they find niches which become profitable for some, which they then enter, leveraging their buying power. And they have largely cannibalized Walmart, who used to do the same to others (don't feel bad for them as they get a taste of their own medicine).
Denial of reality and the way economics actually works is a recipe for disastrous consequences. The free market is there, whether you want it to be or not. If you refuse to grow, your competitor will. At your expense.
If you increase your costs in one column without being able to decrease them somewhere else without harming productivity, you are increasing your risk. Not paying people better. But betting their jobs on something that isn't based upon sound economic theory.