In recent decades, America has seen a sharp decline in union membership. In the 1950’s, 35 percent of American workers were members of a union, today that number is down to 11 percent.
According to labor author, commentator and speaker Philip Dine, President Reagan’s crackdown on unions in the 1980’s demonstrated that the old rules of collective bargaining no longer applied.
Our economy has also changed since the age of powerful unions. We’ve transitioned from a predominance of manufacturing industries into the service sector, with much of our manufacturing outsourced overseas. Dine says employers are also much more aggressive in keeping unions out of the work place and it is now harder to form a union in the United States than any other western democracy in the world.
Although unions play a large role in the public sector, aiding firemen, police and teachers, they’ve lost their dominance with mines and factories.
So can unions survive? Dine believes they can.
“In a time where the gap between the rich and the poor is growing and corporate power is concentrated and distant,” says Dine “They’re as needed as ever.”