The Future of the American Labor Movement

A Journal of Ideas
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And economists have recently documented how the excessive power of a few consolidated employers is holding down wages, a phenomenon known as monopsony.

Wonks in Exile

In urban and rural areas, unionized letter carriers, teachers, firefighters and other union members interact with almost every resident on a daily basis. Its reader should not include only specialists in industrial relations for it has a broader appeal, framing the issues in larger social terms which should be of concern to all those with an interest in the role an representation of labor in the productive system. In fact, it became instead a first-class workplace monitoring system. Many unions have made major investments in digital staff and resources to keep up with new technologies and new ways to engage working people. It is no coincidence that during this era of diminished bargaining power, millions of workers have suffered from historic wage and wealth inequality. In a paper presented to our commission, Valerie Wilson of EPI estimates that by , people of color will be a majority of workers lacking a four-year college degree.

Similarly, the United States is the only industrial nation not to give workers a legal right to any vacation, paid or unpaid. The only other countries in the world without paid maternity leave laws are Papua New Guinea, Suriname, and a few Pacific island states.

The Future of American Labor: Initiatives for a New Era

Labor unions represent just 6. In the late s and the s, through landmark contracts with General Motors, Ford, and other industrial giants, unions played a decisive role in building the biggest, richest middle class the world had ever seen. Unions also played a pivotal role in winning enactment of the federal minimum wage, Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare, occupational safety laws, and the civil rights laws of the s. Union members earn Seventy-five percent of unionized workers participate in employer-sponsored health plans, compared with just 49 percent of nonunion workers.

Eighty-three percent of union members have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, while just 49 percent of nonunion workers do.

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The American labor movement is at a critical moment in its history. As workers, advocates, and union leaders chart a path forward, what initiatives, reform. Considering these numbers, it almost feels strange to be writing about unions in America at all right now. Labor unions represent only

Unions also help reduce the gender pay gap. Women workers in unions are paid, on average, ninety-four cents to the dollar paid to unionized male workers, while nonunion women earn seventy-eight cents to the dollar compared with nonunion working men. African American union members earn on average Unions have played an important, but often unappreciated role in reducing inequality; the decades when unions were strongest—the s through s—were the decades when there was the least income inequality.

One study found that the decline in union power and density since explains a third of the increase in wage inequality among American men and a fifth of the increased inequality among women. Unions often reduce inequality by pushing for higher pay for typical workers, more generous Social Security benefits, higher taxes on the rich, and greater restraints on executive pay. In their prime, unions regularly turned to their most powerful weapon—the strike—to fight for better pay and conditions. Nowadays, however, unions are so weakened that they rarely go on strike.

From to , there were fewer than 13 major strikes per year on average in the private sector involving more than a thousand workers. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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It also has the second-highest percentage of low-wage workers among that group, exceeded only by Latvia. Though candidate Trump campaigned as a champion of workers, his administration has repeatedly sided with business over workers.

What’s the future of America’s unions?

It has scrapped numerous job safety regulations, pushed to take away health coverage from millions of families, and rolled back a rule that extended overtime pay to millions more workers. Many industrial relations experts put it another way: they say there has been an undeniable decline in worker voice, the effective ability of workers to speak up and the willingness of many employers to listen to what workers have to say.

In their groundbreaking book on labor relations, What Do Unions Do? Freeman and James L. And economists have recently documented how the excessive power of a few consolidated employers is holding down wages, a phenomenon known as monopsony.

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Similarly, the United States is the only industrial nation not to give workers a legal right to any vacation, paid or unpaid. The only other countries in the world without paid maternity leave laws are Papua New Guinea, Suriname, and a few Pacific island states. Labor unions represent just 6.

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In the late s and the s, through landmark contracts with General Motors, Ford, and other industrial giants, unions played a decisive role in building the biggest, richest middle class the world had ever seen. Unions also played a pivotal role in winning enactment of the federal minimum wage, Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare, occupational safety laws, and the civil rights laws of the s. Union members earn Seventy-five percent of unionized workers participate in employer-sponsored health plans, compared with just 49 percent of nonunion workers. Eighty-three percent of union members have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, while just 49 percent of nonunion workers do.

Unions also help reduce the gender pay gap. Women workers in unions are paid, on average, ninety-four cents to the dollar paid to unionized male workers, while nonunion women earn seventy-eight cents to the dollar compared with nonunion working men. African American union members earn on average Unions have played an important, but often unappreciated role in reducing inequality; the decades when unions were strongest—the s through s—were the decades when there was the least income inequality. One study found that the decline in union power and density since explains a third of the increase in wage inequality among American men and a fifth of the increased inequality among women.

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Unions often reduce inequality by pushing for higher pay for typical workers, more generous Social Security benefits, higher taxes on the rich, and greater restraints on executive pay. In their prime, unions regularly turned to their most powerful weapon—the strike—to fight for better pay and conditions.

Nowadays, however, unions are so weakened that they rarely go on strike.