What factors caused the decline of workers unions


What factors caused the decline of workers unions

In: 3

Politics, technology, globalization, and culture.

From a cultural point of view, unions were often shown in a negative light in pop culture. Media is controlled by large corporations, and so unions were often portrayed on television or in print as lazy hinderances to the Ayn Rand style entrepreneurs. It didn’t help matters that by the 1980s unions were increasingly associated with the mafia, at least in media portrayals.

As technology progressed, many of the traditionally union industries became obsolete, and new industries popped up. These new industries, such as programmers, developers, software engineers, etc did not emerge unionized, and never really made serious efforts to do so. Additionally, more modern gig economy jobs, such as Uber driver, Door Dasher, MLMs and even OnlyFans are increasingly numerous options that would be incredibly difficult to unionize.

With the advent of the internet, there was also a major globalization push in the United States. Many of the manufacturing jobs that were unionized, were outsourced to foreign countries. The stronger a union was, the more likely to be moved that job became. This has also resulted in scarcity of jobs within the United States, which always weakens unions bargaining power and helps corporations.

Politically, both major political parties in the US are beholden to corporate interests, though arguably to different degrees. This has resulted in laws being passed that weaken union power, or allow companies to use different tactics to get around unions. The power of the government to mediate disputes, once a union weapon, has often been used to break strikes instead, with the largest example being Ronald Reagan’s breakup of the Air Traffic Control union (ironic, since he’s the only President who was ever head of a labor union himself, SAG).

In Britain:

* The decline of manufacturing industries as factories were moved to cheaper labour locations.
* The local coal industry being increasingly uneconomical as easy to extract coal sources ran out.
* [The Winter of Discontent](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_of_Discontent) that saw Thatcher come to power
* The major tactical errors of the NUM in the 1984-85 miner’s strikes

A big part of it is actual laws which inhibit the ability to recruit more members or go on strike. For instance, most states ban a workplace from requiring employees to join the union. This might sound reasonable, but it indirectly weakens unions by having a shop with both union and non union employees. The nonunion employees will benefit from the unions’ activism but aren’t contributing dues-this can cause people to feel like paying dues is a waste of money. And when it comes to going on strike, you would not believe the hoops you have to jump through to make the strike legally happen, such as “a strike requires permission from management in order to be approved”. This is in part why there were a bunch of wildcat strikes in teachers unions during the pandemic-members wanted to go on strike but for various bullshit reasons they weren’t *allowed* to do so.

The government can and will also intervene on management’s behalf which also weakens unions. Railroad workers wanted to go on strike but the Biden Administration balked at risking 1/3 of all freight traffic grinding to a halt. When management knows workers do not have the political means to agitate for better wages they are in a better position to exploit workers and fire/blacklist anyone that complains.

If people get together to put an end to corruption, they just end up replacing the corruption with a smarter trickier form of it.