What’s the role of unions in the 21st century?

Is there a role for an organization that blackmails employers, extorts workers and harasses society?  If so, unions fill the bill.  In the 21st century, with technological innovations, the ability to remotely work, with homeschools growing and gun ownership exploding, the need for union help has gone.  Plus young people want freedom to think for themselves—and unions hate that.

“Like union membership across the country, the reach of California’s unions has been declining, reaching a historical low of 14.7% in 2018. The reasons are many and controversial. 

Experts agree that there’s been slower growth in industries with traditionally strong unions, such as manufacturing. Labor organizers often point to fierce corporate opposition against workers who try to organize, and a lack of federal penalties for intimidation or retaliation. Corporations point to declining relevance for workers who are suspicious of alleged corruption or greed within unions. Plus, unions increasingly prioritize spending on lobbying over recruitment, said William Gould IV, a Stanford Law professor who studies labor and discrimination law. “Unions today are spending roughly one-third to one-fifth of what they expended during the ‘30s, the ‘40s or the ‘50s when it comes to union organizing.” 

Unions tout an uptick in membership over the last few years — in 2020, 16.2% of California’s workers were in a union — but that’s far from a recovery.”

Still, thanks to AB 5 more workers will have money stolen from their paychecks to finance the buying of Sacramento and local city councils and school districts—away from workers, parents and the community.  Until workers are free to join, or not join, a union, we will live in a totalitarian State run by a small minority.

What’s the role of unions in the 21st century?

by Grace Gedye, Jesse Bedayn, Melissa Montalvo, Jackie Botts, Nigel Duara and Erika Paz, CalMatters,   9/23/21

Unions have historically formed to ensure fair wages, benefits and better working conditions for their members. They negotiate with businesses and governments on behalf of employees, who either work a particular type of job or in a particular industry. They’re a powerful force in California politics, pushing for a statewide $15 minimum wage, increased paid sick time and greater workplace safety in the COVID era.

But membership, particularly in the private sector that makes up 84% of the labor force, is at historic lows.

Today, unions represent just 16% of California’s more than 15 million workers. At the same time, Californians continue to experience the greatest economic inequality in generations — made worse as the COVID recession dealt the biggest blow to lower- and middle-wage workers.

The Newsom administration says that unions must be part of the solution for reducing economic inequality. But do unions reduce the wage gap? Or do they raise costs on businesses? And why have unions succeeded in organizing the public sector but struggled to gain traction in the private sector? 

What is the role of unions in a 21st century economy? And will workers embrace them?

The birthplace of many national labor movements, California hit its unionization peak in the 1950s, with more than 40% of the workforce unionized. The state has been a trailblazer, carving new paths for collective bargaining. Notably, labor organizing led by legendary activist Cesar Chavez brought wins such as the 1975 California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, establishing the right of farmworkers to form and join unions, a first in the nation.

Since then, California has consistently organized more workers than the nation, particularly in education and health care. In part, that’s because California hasn’t followed a wave of conservative states in passing so-called right-to-work laws, meaning employees cannot be required to join a union in a unionized workplace. But California’s membership rates trail states like Hawaii, where 23.7% of workers are unionized, and New York, at 22%.

Like union membership across the country, the reach of California’s unions has been declining, reaching a historical low of 14.7% in 2018. The reasons are many and controversial. 

Experts agree that there’s been slower growth in industries with traditionally strong unions, such as manufacturing. Labor organizers often point to fierce corporate opposition against workers who try to organize, and a lack of federal penalties for intimidation or retaliation. Corporations point to declining relevance for workers who are suspicious of alleged corruption or greed within unions. Plus, unions increasingly prioritize spending on lobbying over recruitment, said William Gould IV, a Stanford Law professor who studies labor and discrimination law. “Unions today are spending roughly one-third to one-fifth of what they expended during the ‘30s, the ‘40s or the ‘50s when it comes to union organizing.” 

Unions tout an uptick in membership over the last few years — in 2020, 16.2% of California’s workers were in a union — but that’s far from a recovery.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. It is simple the majority of unions are tied with the radical Democrat Party.

    They are about forcing contracts through government mandates.

    Unions have become the icons of corruption and the thugs are the Radical Democrat Party.

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