LIUNA Action Network

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For the past forty years there has been a steady decline in both union membership and influence. There are several reasons for such a decline, the first having to do with employers keeping their businesses union-free. Some were active in their opposition and even hired consultants to devise legal strategies to combat unions. Other employers put workers on the management team by appointing them to the board of directors or establishing profit-sharing plans to reward employees. The second reason for union decline is that new additions to the labor force have traditionally had little loyalty to organized labor. Minorities have a proclivity towards accepting lower wages, thus defeating the purpose of organized labor.

The third and possibly the most important reason for the decline in unions is that they are victims of their own success. Unions raised their wages substantially above the wages paid to nonunion workers. Therefore, many union-made products have become so expensive that sales were lost to less expensive foreign competitors and nonunion producers. This resulted in companies having to cut back on production, which caused some workers to lose their jobs, and hence, unions some of their members. Also, the recent shift in this country towards technology and service has made our economy less reliant in the types of industrial jobs that tended to be union strongholds. Today's worker tends to more highly educated and tends to the professional, white coller class. All of these have conspired to decrease union membership.