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The Labor Union Membership Decline

The second half of the 20th century brought about significant changes to the economy of the whole world. The process of globalization and the introduction of new technologies meant that factories could produce more goods for less money. Therefore, the overall decline in union membership was observed as a common phenomenon for the past decade in the United States. Fewer workers in the union-dominated sector mean fewer unions. However, the European countries proved to be committed to union membership, unlike their western colleagues. Even though there are still many unions in other countries, it is necessary to reveal the root causes of the decline in the U.S.

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Labor Unions in the U.S. are the organizations that have represented the workers since the enactment of the National Labor Relations Acts in 1935. Their activities today are focused on collective bargaining on wages, drafting, and working conditions for their members, as well as on representing the interests of their members. According to Epstein (2020), “they also increase the risk of market disruption from strikes, lockouts, or firm bankruptcies whenever unions or employers overplay their hands in the negotiation” (para. 10). Larger unions also tend to be involved in lobbying and campaigning at state and federal levels. From a monetary point of view, the drawback of associations is that they make it harder for organizations to develop and enlist more laborers. The decay of associations might be one of the reasons why the U.S. presently has a blasting activity market and a growing imbalance.

When discussing the decline, academicians think the turning point of the phenomenon starts in the 1970s or during the post-war years. The primary cause of the fall is the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, which put restrictions on some unions that exist up to these days (Kopf, 2019). The source states that “the sharp decline in union membership from 35 percent in both 1945 and 1954 to about 15 percent in 1985” (Epstein, 2020, para. 13). Moreover, it “led to no substantial increase in the fraction of wealth earned by the top 10 percent of the economy during that period” (Epstein, 2020, para. 13). The Act itself restricted auxiliary blacklists and “compassion” blacklists. It made the way for the option-to-work laws – which deny managers from recruiting just association representatives – that presently exist in 27 states around the nation (Gunn, 2018). The enactment additionally necessitated that association heads sign sworn statements swearing they weren’t Communist supporters. Furthermore, refusal to sign implied they would lose a large number of the securities ensured by the Wagner Act, the milestone 1935 work law that built up the National Labor Relations Board and provided laborers the option to sort out.

The other root cause is considered to be the un-unionized South. Worker’s organizations were in “Operation Dixie,” a battle to sort out the non-unionized textile industry in the South. Hostile association business pioneers in the locale utilized the allegation that the administration of a portion of the mechanical associations were Communists, or Communist inclining, to prepare resistance to Operation Dixie. Association adversaries additionally depended on another, especially ground-breaking bogeyman – integration – to build strength to the mechanical associations among white laborers in the Jim Crow South. Even with this resistance, Operation Dixie, at last, fizzled – the Southern textile industry remained un-unionized.

The third reason for the union membership decline is thought to be the crisis. Against this background of weakness, the more significant monetary powers of the 1970s and ’80s were destroying. The high swelling of the 1970s provoked Chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker to seek after a course of forceful financing cost builds that expanded the estimation of the dollar and diminished U.S. trades, pulverizing the assembling segment. Joblessness soar, arriving at 10.8 percent in 1982 (Collins, 2015). Cutbacks were usual – 21.2 percent of workers encountered an automatic activity misfortune somewhere in the range of 1981 and 1983.

In addition to the reasons, changes in the American economic system and workforce socioeconomics can be added. The rising number of unlawful migrant specialists who, dreading expulsion, are unwilling to fight unsatisfactory work conditions, substantially less become related to an association sorting out battle. The quickly growing unforeseen workforce – made out of general ladies, brief laborers, and low maintenance representatives—has likewise demonstrated to be hard for associations to arrange (Rosenberg, 2020). Furthermore, shifts in American employment advertise from the stale assembling part to an extending administration area, and the making of numerous new generally salaried and specialized occupations have likewise introduced arranging difficulties to associations.

In conclusion, it is necessary to state that these causes are considered root because of their long-lasting existence on the territory of the states. Moreover, they date back to the previous century, thus, these inveterate problems are hard to avoid nowadays. The ever-changing society is attempting to eradicate the issues of union decline but it is still concentrated on the affairs of the previous century. As a result, the union membership rate is unlikely to increase in the following decade.

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Collins, M. (2015). How the decline of unions and collective bargaining hurts manufacturing and our economy. Industry Week. Web.

Gunn, D. (2018). What caused the decline of unions in America? PacificStandard. Web.

Epstein, R. (2020). The decline of unions is good news. Hoover Institution. Web.

Kopf, D. (2019). Union membership in the U.S. keeps on falling, like almost everywhere else. QUARTZ. Web.

Rosenberg, A. (2020). Workers are fired up. But union participation is still on the decline, new statistics show. The Washington Post. Web.

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