September 7, 2015
By Neal Tepel, LaborPress Editorial
New York, NY – As the country celebrated Labor Day — a national holiday founded to celebrate the American worker — the anti-union movement in America is becoming stronger. Declining membership, anti-union legislation, and right-to-work states – impacts on the ability to organize workers.
About 35 percent of American workers were unionized during organized labor's peak period, which came during the boom years after World War II. That number has been declining over the past several decades, as the American workforce has shifted away from traditionally unionized jobs such as manufacturing and labor unions faced an uphill battle organizing new workplaces.
Today, only 11 percent of U.S. workers nationwide are members of unions, down from more than 20 percent in 1983. More than half of all union members today are government workers.
Legislation, such as right-to-work laws passed in 25 states that bans compulsory union membership, even in areas where unions traditionally represent workers, is stymieing efforts for unions to represent workers. Deep-pocketed corporations as Walmart are fighting unionization attempts among workers. These companies do not want their employees to have a voice at work.
In spite of the opposition from anti-union legislators and corporations, Unions continue to be a driving force to improve the lives of workers with health benefits, workplace safety, working conditions and pay. Through the years unions have been successful at increasing minimum wages in every industry.
Organized labor initiatives to increase pay for fast-food workers has been extremely successful across the country. A recent National Labor Relations Board ruling that declared a California company could be considered a "joint employer" along with the staffing agency that provides the firm's employees was an important win for labor. Companies that use temporary workers provided by outside agencies could now be held liable for labor violations.
A recent Gallup poll found that 58 percent of Americans approve of labor unions, the highest approval rating since 2008, when it was 59 percent.
While union opponents argue that unions are no longer needed by American workers, the opposite is true. Labor organizations are more important than ever particularly in right-to-work states where employees are underpaid and loosing benefits. Union membership means better jobs, better benefits, better treatment on the job and better salary.