Is the union resurgence real? Does it matter for workers? – Orange County Register

Unions are said to be having a moment. The story goes something like this: Helped by a presidential administration that touts itself as the “most pro-union in history,” labor unions — after decades of decline — are winning big victories against anti-union corporations and extracting impressive concessions for their workers. But is it all true?

There has certainly been a lot of union activity. Last year we witnessed a significant increase in strikes and threats of strikes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the country lost 16.6 million labor days to work stoppages last year. You have to go all the way back to 2000 to find this level of union disturbance.

In addition, the United Auto Workers reached an agreement with Ford that included wage hikes of 25%. Similar agreements with Stellantis and General Motors followed. Other unions won contract gains at large employers such as UPS and Hollywood TV and film studios. Then there was the much-celebrated UAW victory in a representation election at Volkswagen in Tennessee and progress made at some Starbucks stores.

All the same, talk of a union renaissance might be much ado about nothing. Union membership as a share of wage and salary workers has declined steadily from 28.3% in 1967 to an all-time low of 10% in 2023. Although the absolute number of union workers has recently risen, it hasn’t kept up with the growth of the total number of American workers.

National Review’s Dominic Pino has been following unions comprehensively. He never forgets to report both their wins and their losses. For instance, workers at a unionized Nissan facility in Somerset, New Jersey, are in the process of decertifying from the UAW. The same happened at various non-Starbucks coffee shops.

These events are in line with the overall trend for UAW, Pino notes, as “membership declined last year to 370,000. It was nearly 400,000 in 2020, and it peaked at 1.5 million in 1970.” To be fair to the labor movement, part of this decline could be because UAW bosses have been pretty corrupt. For instance, National Review reported that “in December 2020, the UAW reached a settlement with the Department of Justice after a yearslong fraud and corruption investigation. More than a dozen top union officials, including two former presidents, were convicted of crimes for embezzlement of workers’ dues.”

It could also be that unions aren’t so much about fighting for the cause of blue-collar workers as they used to be. Indeed, 49% of union members worked for the government in 2023. Thirty-three percent of public-sector employees are in unions, as opposed to just 6% of the private sector. In the case of UAW, about 100,000 members work in higher education, including graduate student workers statistically likely to go on to non-blue-collar jobs. I believe public-sector unions shouldn’t exist. Taxpayers — the ones paying the bills when government unions successfully negotiate pay and benefits hikes — are not adequately represented at the negotiation table. In fact, with their political donations, public-sector unions help decide who sits on the other end of that negotiating table.

#union #resurgence #real #matter #workers #Orange #County #Register

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *