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Labor Day brings focus to economy, declining union membership


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holiday-returns-focus-to-impact-organized-labor-on-economy-declining-unionFox News:

With Labor Day marking the traditional time for Americans to take stock in the successes and failures of the country’s centuries-long labor movement, union membership remains steady but only a fraction of what it was during its peak in the 1950s.


The number of U.S. wage-earners also belonging to a union in 2012 and 2013 is 14.5 million, or 11 percent of the workforce, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to roughly 30 percent 64 years ago.


Union membership for public-sector unions -- whose rolls include such government employees as teachers, police officers and firefighters -- remains relatively high at 35 percent. However, the number of private-sector employees enrolling in unions, now at 6.7 percent, has resulted in the overall decline in membership.


Much of the private-sector drop can be attributed to the steady decline in U.S. manufacturing, with many goods and products now being built by overseas workers at a lesser cost.


Meanwhile, public sector unions are facing increasing pressure in the United States from conservative lawmakers who have argued that their collective-bargaining agreements are hurting the economy.


They and other union critics say such agreements drive up wages that in turn causes inflation, have resulted in pension systems threatening to bankrupt state and local governments and have kept bad teachers from getting fired.


Critics also contend that union influences have resulted in steadily declining paychecks, pointing out that wages remain flat while corporate profits soar, five years after the Great Recession.



Self-made union blues.

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