The Decline of the Labor Movement: And What Can Be Done about It

The Decline of the Labor Movement: And What Can Be Done about It

The Decline of the Labor Movement: And What Can Be Done about It

The Decline of the Labor Movement: And What Can Be Done about It

Excerpt

The anomaly of the day is that the opponents of trade unions are seeking to restrain the economic and political activities of unions at a time when their growth has been halted. Many individual unions are shrinking in size, and the membership of the total movement has declined. The proportion of union members in the total work force has also gone down. Not only are employees not joining unions in the vast numbers they once did but employers are increasingly resisting the spread of union organization and are challenging the mightiest industrial unions in outright economic battle, in several instances forcing unions to withdraw economic demands and in other instances weakening and even destroying the organization.

A certain lassitude has overtaken the trade union movement itself. Little is left of the proselytizing spirit that created the basic organizations in the building and printing trades in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the needle trades organizations in the following two decades, and the industrial unions in the Thirties. The image of unions as the social conscience of the community has been considerably dimmed. Many one-time friends have weakened in their support of unions because of this diminution in aggressive social behavior. Others have become openly critical of union performance, urging renewed emphasis on social vision and criticism of our economic and social system and demanding practical reforms. But the enemies of unions continue to resist and attack them. Having the unions on the defensive, they are seeking further to contain and weaken them.

The new quiescent state of the American unions comes after a period of great growth. They amassed great numbers and influence. Their prestige was high. They significantly conditioned the thought and conduct of leaders in many walks of life. There was widespread interest in and . . .

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