This is disappointing news for Americans workers and for all of us who want a viable American middle class. Union membership is down to 12% of America's workforce. In the 1950s, with a much smaller population, union members accounted about 33% of America's workforce belonged to an union. Twenty years ago, the figure was over 20%.
The reason why this is bad for American workers is that unions drive up wages for all workers, not just those in the unions. When non-union employers have to compete for workers with unionized workers, they have to offer more money and more benefits. When there isn't such competition, then there isn't that incentive to improve wage and benefits packages.
This country was built on increasing the standard of living for the middle class, and especially for workers did not have a college degree. Those workers are now seeing their standard of living eroding. It will continue to erode as long as workers are not able to effectively bargain with employers for better wages.
Hopefully the new Democratic controlled Congress will pass legislation to make it easier to join an union. It is almost a certainity that such legislation would be vetoed by Bush, but it would set the stage for getting it passed and signed during the upcoming Democratic presidency.
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