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Labor Unions: Just About Gone

Written by Gary North on January 27, 2015

The experiment is over in the United States. Except for unions of tax-supported workers, they’re kaput.

They only existed because the federal government gave them monopolies. Now the National Labor Relations Board is impotent. White collar workers won’t vote to join.

Unions can’t shut down industries with strikes. They are hard pressed to close a single business.

Norma Rae was replaced by someone in Indonesia back in 1980.

Union membership peaked in 1953. On the Waterfront was filmed that year; it was released in 1954. It was about a crooked union. At the end, all the men on the waterfront went back to work. The movie was prophetic.


New information from the federal government suggests workers’ interest in unions continues to fall, with union membership reaching its lowest rate in 100 years.

According to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics today, the union membership rate fell to 11.1 percent, with just 14.6 million wage and salaried workers maintaining membership.

In 2013, the union membership rate was 0.2 percentage points higher, at 11.3 percent.

The rate of union membership has been on a steady decline over the past three decades. It grew slightly from 12.1 percent in 2007 to 12.4 percent in 2008. During President Obama’s first year in office, however, it fell once more.

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said in a statement today that though there has been job growth over the past 58 months, many of the jobs created do not provide fair wages.

“A strong recovery must be built on family-sustaining, not poverty-level jobs,” he said. “Today’s news confirms what most of us already knew: workers are finding good union jobs despite political ideologues—and jobs are coming back as the economy slowly rebounds, but neither are nearly enough.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of union membership for public-sector workers last year was 35.7 percent, compared to just 6.6 percent for the private sector.

Of those working in the public sector, government had the highest union membership rate.

Here is how the free market works: workers compete against workers. Employers compete against employers.

Today, workers who don’t want to join a union, or who are excluded by a union, can now find work. They can compete with unionized workers, whose services come too high.

The free market won.

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