In 1955, overall rate of unionization was 35 percent; last week, 11.3 percent.
The same week, 2013, Dow Jones Industrial Average on the stock market broke 14,000 for the first time in five years—the market's at a historic high.
Non-unionization correlates with high stock markets?
Non-unionization correlates with growing gap between rich and poor?
Remember, correlation does not mean cause!
Explanations of why union density falls:
1. internal forces
a. Unions slow to recognize changing global economy;
b. they were resistant to immigrant workers belonging to unions;
c. not innovative in organizing strategies;
d. not aggressive about corporate globalization.
2. external forces
a. employers on offensive against unions in past 30 years;
b. changed labor laws and regulations;
c. corporations break laws to fight unions and keep them out of the workplace;
d. changing rules and regulations about workers’ rights.
I recall a time when the AFofL craft worker unions were refusing to acknowledge the CIO manufacturing worker unions. I don't know if racism was the reason. The AFofL later got smart and the AFL-CIO resulted.
The economic rapacity of American business made unions inevitable and the US government, always an ally of business, did little but attack unions and working people at least until the Roosevelt administration. During the decades before WW2, the only ally unions and working people had was the Communist Party. After WW2, the US Senate's demagogic Joe McCarthy based a short political career on attacking unions and working people for Communist leanings.
I first joined a union during WW2 while working part-time in a grocery store and was most recently a member of the AFL-CIO Writers Union.
The current low membership of unions saddens me. It's due in part to anti-union government policy such as right-to-work laws, and due in part to anti-union company policy. I don't know if internal corruption played a part.
I have for decades favored employee ownership of workplaces. As it becomes a reality, unions will be less important to workers.
Humankind have put a lot of effort into a trip from political tyranny to democracy. The trip has begun but is not finished.
A similar trip from economic tyranny to democracy, (aka worker self-directed enterprise) has also begun.
By Richard D. Wolff, at Amazon:
Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism, published October 2012 with excellent reviews. I have a sample on my Kindle but have yet to buy the book.
Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do about It, published September 2012, also with excellent reviews.
By Petr Alekseevich Kropotkin, a free edition at Amazon for Kindle readers:
Mutual Aid: a Factor of Evolution, published March 2011. Two reviewers liked it; one, an xian who opposes evolution, panned it. This is a study of cooperative societies, human and non-human. I read this decades ago and liked it.