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Rambam Hilchos Mechirah 14 (10) states:

Similarly, craftsmen in a specific profession may establish provisions and agree that one should not work on the day on which another is working or the like, and that anyone who violates these guidelines will be punished in such and such a fashion.

This seems to permit the craftsmen to restrict competition; as a result of onlt one craftsman being available on each day, the likelihood is that prices will be higher than otherwise.

I had always thought (without sources!) that Chazal's attitude to competition was that it is a good thing. Can the apparent conflict be resolved?

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  • I think Chazal were in favor of competition because then nobody could make the prices too high. But if there's no issue of prices, then I guess there's no problem of unionizing.
    – Harel13
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 20:43

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The rules for guilds and such are laid out in the first perek of Bava Basra. Unfettered competition can violate the rule of "Lo sasig" which forbids a person to encroach on his neighbor's livelihood. The exact limitations and whether this applies when the public will benefit is a matter of dispute.

Chazal only allowed unfettered competition in a few areas, the primary one nowadays being the teaching of Torah. Otherwise, they very delicately balanced the benefit of the public from competition with the benefit to the individual of a stable livelihood. See the first perek of Bava Basra at length.

As politely as possible, please allow me to say that an assumption without sources and a Rambam based on a Gemara do not really create a "conflict."

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    Thank you for the answer and the delicately worded last paragraph - quite right too! Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 9:45

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