Term Paper On Labor Unions


The paper discusses the evolution of Labor Unions in the USA. It makes use of five published work on the role of Labor Unions within the political landscape of America. As organizations, unions have a certain degree of freedom to decide if they want to apply their resources and efforts to obtain market or clout or both simultaneously. They also have to decide if going for internal leadership and organizational alterations is critical to their attempts at rejuvenation, and just how important the membership element is. Thus, this paper will go into detail about these aforementioned aspects of Labor Unions in the United State of America.

Literature Review

As Gindin (1989) notes, the real significance of the developments in the USA is that the union leadership has, during the 1980s, accepted a strategic change in the direction of collective bargaining and of their own role in it. Changes in wage setting and in work rules, which were initially interpreted as temporary setbacks, are now presented to the membership as ‘innovative breakthroughs’ and ‘victories’.

In the year 1980, the Union in the USA was threatened with massive job losses if didn’t comply; thus, it was powerless to resist the demands for concessions by its members. (Holmes.et al)

Hire a custom writer who has experience.
It's time for you to order amazing papers!

order now

By staying within the limits of their union organizations and national contexts, Union leaders can agree on the most encouraging revitalization aspects and choose strategies they think of as accommodative to furthering revitalization along those aspects. (Behrens.et al)

The acceptance of certain initiatives, such as organizing activities in the USA in the 1990s, may indicate the advent of new union leaderships capable of framing problems and solutions in ways that can garner the support of union members and activists. It doesn’t essentially follow that these frontrunners should be available only at state levels of the union movement. In factionalized unions, novel ways of framing problems, such as those related to privatization or partnership, have first cropped up among rebel groupings at lower levels of trade unions as they have went on to challenge in-office rivals. (Frege.et al)

The pressing question is can the adverse effects on employment and inflation generated by a monetary reform be neutralized by adjusting the level of central bank conservativeness along with the establishment of the Monetary Union. Sadly, it turns out not to be the case because, in the framework, the choice of central bank conservativeness induces a long run trade-off between inflation and unemployment. But at least for the case of identical countries this trade-off is more favorable to higher central bank conservativeness, or stricter in inflation targeting, with regard to a Monetary Union. (Cukierman.et al). Hence, this framework’s repercussions on unemployment and labor union actions must be keenly observed.


The influence of labor unions is experienced from factories to modern news offices and key ports. The truth is that politicians usually are scornful towards their demands, however, if it serves their purpose, they long for their endorsements.

Today the membership of Labor unions is historically low. Unions have been bringing together workers looking for better salaries, benefits, and employment conditions ever since the U.S. industrialized in the late 1800s. Moreover, academics have been discussing about the economic and social impact of these unions. The questions that they have been trying to answer are: Do these unions impede or enhance productivity? Do they support or disturb labor markets? Do they develop local and state governments, or hemorrhage them with debt responsibilities. And it must be noted that these debates are intensifying, owing to the never-increasing wages and growing income inequality that American workers face.

The US Supreme Court came to know that its states cannot make it incumbent on their public workers who choose to leave Union membership to anyway help in paying for the collective negotiations carried out for them. The court had reached a stalemate over a related case in 2016. The decision will decrease the funds unions use to provide assistance to their members and enhance membership efforts. This is likely to decrease the political power of the unions, since they’ll have less money to spend on primarily democratic aspirants. The court decision was another setback for a system that has been going down for years. In the year 2017, only 10.7 percent of salaried workers in the US had union membership; this is nearly half the rate in the year 1983. The purported right to work laws, which prohibit any requirement for employees to pay union dues or fees, are effective in more than half of the total states, including the traditional union hubs in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana.

Within the public sector, the membership rate has touched about thirty-five percent, and unions were already being pressurized to agree to pay pension and health-care cuts. There have been a number of promising signs: a series of current successful unionization campaigns by reporters at the Los Angeles Times, MTV News, and Vox Media, and a string of teacher walkouts in states including West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Colorado that led to increases in salary.

Over the passage of time, large scale production technology altered American business and work spaces, increasing the power distance between management and labor and provoking workers to come together in their demand for better pay, safer working conditions, and shorter working hours. At various places, such as rail yards, coal mines and steel mills, strikes turned into bloody riots, resulting in paltry, if any, benefits for workers. It was in 1935 that the National Labor Relations Act corroborated workers’ rights to unionize and participate in the process of collective negotiating.

When America came out of the Great Depression, unions increased, in both strength and number. By the time the American Federation of Labor, which was established in 1886, collaborated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations to make the AFL-CIO a reality in 1995, more than one in three American workers were doing union jobs. However, as the US economy evolved from manufacturing to services, unions steadily became less influential.

The membership of unions suffered severely in 1981 after President Ronald Regan dismissed more than eleven thousand air traffic controllers for not abiding by federal laws against striking. That led to a decline in workplace walkouts. During the years 1970 to 1980, there were an average of two hundred and eighty work stoppages per year in the US, involving thousand workers or more, in the year 2017, there were seven. Moreover, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said that firing of air traffic control workers in 1981 was President Ronald Reagan’s most important domestic initiative for its impact on private employer hiring decisions.

It has been estimated that Union workers make about two hundred dollars more every week on an average than non-union employees, and get better health insurance and retirement pay. These recompenses continue to be applicable even after accounting for variables like age and education. Several studies have revealed that unions also help increase pay for non-union employees by laying down a higher current wage. This has made some economists blame today’s wage stagnation, lack of economic mobility, and increasing income inequality on the weakening union powers.


Unionization’s critics are of the opinion that the bloated salaries of union members imply less overall jobs, and that the oversized benefits and pension of public-sector union employees have eaten into government budgets. They say that pay increases which are based on seniority and work rules often delineated in union agreements hinder productivity and give immunity to incompetent employees. Conversely, supporters posit that unions help turnover enhance performance and decrease employee, by building workplace trust and transparency. Unions also help decrease the gender pay gap. In the year 2016, female union members made on an average ninety percent of men’s weekly earnings, whereas women not in a union made eighty one percent. Moreover, National Bureau of Economic Research paper argued that changes in technology have played an important role in both the fall and rise of unions in the US. Conclusively, in 2015, former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers penned that more potent unions are not just beneficial for their members, but also for our country and our descendants. So it remains to be seen what the future of Labor Unions in America looks like.


Behrens, Martin, Kerstin Hamann, and Richard W. Hurd.
“Conceptualizing labour union revitalization.” (2004).
Cukierman, Alex, and Francesco Lippi. “Labour markets and monetary union: a strategic analysis.” The Economic Journal 111.473 (2001): 541-565.
Frege, Carola M., and John Kelly. “Union revitalization strategies in comparative perspective.” (2003): 7-24.
Gindin S, 1989, “Breaking away: the formation of the Canadian Auto Workers” Studies in Political Economy 29 63-89
Holmes, John, and Anthony Rusonik. “The break-up of an international labour union: Uneven development in the North American auto industry and the schism in the UAW.” Environment and Planning A 23.1 (1991): 9-35.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *