Unionism Today

While understanding the historical context of labor unions is important, so, too, is appreciating the role of unionism today, especially trends in union membership, union-management relations, and bargaining perspectives. We discuss these topics in the sections that follow.

Trends in Union Membership

Since the mid-1950s, U.S. labor unions have experienced increasing difficulties in attracting new members. Although millions of workers still belong to labor unions, union membership as a percentage of the total workforce has continued to decline at a steady rate. In 1977, for example, more than 26 percent of U.S. wage and salary employees belonged to labor unions. Today, that figure is about 14 percent. Moreover, if public employees ...

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