Causes Of The Decline Of Labor Unions

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Introduction Labor unions became very prevalent during the Progressive Era when positions in factories were readily available but also steadily dangerous. Unions were drafted in order to protect the rights of workers regarding safety, wages, and benefits. It wasn’t until about the 1980’s when labor unions started to face a real decline and lack of memberships. In my opinion I believe the lack of manufacturing jobs in the US, newly implemented public policies, and increased lobbying from corporations are the root causes of the decline. Loss of US Manufacturing I believe a contributing factor as to why labor unions are on a steep decline in the US today is because the country’s manufacturing sector has become obsolete. Specifically speaking…show more content…
In 1981, President Reagan began a period of “union busting” where he locked out the air traffic controllers union. After a strike ensued 3,000 workers were terminated by Reagan (Collins, 2015). According to Collins, 2015 this single instance sent a message to future politicians that “taking an anti-union stance was not necessarily a political liability” (p. 2). State and federal governments also became better equipped to act as an ally to the American worker and essentially replace many of the responsibilities that were once dedicated to unions. Overtime pay, number of hours worked, guaranteed days off and employees’ rights and standards are all issues that have been addressed by the state and federal governments (Macaray, 2008). If an employee wanted a guarantee that their place of work would be free from hazards their only option was to join a union and have contracts drafted. Now that guarantee has been replaced with the Occupation Health and Safety Act (OSHA). The act holds every employer within the US to maintain high standards of safety within their establishment (Macaray,…show more content…
Corporations sought to completely disband unions or at least severely weaken. According to Collins, 2015 “it worked very well and in the last 30 years they have been very successful at either blocking or weakening any legislation that would help unions or collective bargaining” (p. 2). As unions became weaker corporations acted by refusing to meet any of their requests regarding higher wages or benefits. They even went as far to hire strike breakers. Once a job lock out began or a strike ensued strike breakers were hired to replace union workers (Collins, 2015). After the strike subsided this left many people without work. The hiring of strike breakers gained popularity and effectiveness so much that unions became reluctant to continue their striking. For comparison purposes 371 strikes took place in 1970 and only 11 occurred in 2010 (Collins,
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