Via the pro-labor union [*] site EmployerReport.com comes the slow-moving news that the heirs to the Wobblies continue to go wobbly in the workplace: Union membership drops to record low!…(7.4% private sector, 12% overall).
More on this from the NY Times:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday that union membership fell by 326,000 in 2006, to 15.4 million workers, bringing the percentage of employees in unions to 12 percent, down from 12.5 percent in 2005. Those figures are down from 20 percent in 1983 and from 35 percent in the 1950s.
Work force experts said the decline in union membership was caused by large-scale layoffs and buyouts in the auto industry and other manufacturing industries, together with the labor movement's difficulties in organizing nonunion workers fast enough to offset those losses.
From AP via MSNBC, comes this tidbit: "The union membership rate for government workers, 36.2 percent, was substantially higher than for private industry workers, 7.4 percent."
Back in 2000, Reason Contributing Editor Mike McMenamin wrote an obit for unions:
Organized labor was a one-century phenomenon. Look it up…Today union leaders, politicians, and employers conspire to take from their members, constituents, and employees hundreds of millions of dollars every year, in violation of the First Amendment. What was once a proud mass movement that improved and dignified the lives of its members in vital segments of the manufacturing-based economy is now no more than a special-interest adjunct to a political party, humored and tolerated less for the voting bloc it no longer commands than for the soft money it can deliver. Organized labor in the private sector no longer serves the interests of its members. It has failed to adapt to the new information economy, as it successfully adapted to industrialization in the early 20th century. It is dying before our eyes.
McMenamin trains most of his withering gaze on the Service Employees Industrial Union. Check out his whole case here.
More recently (last year), Tim Cavanaugh–what is it with all these Sons of Hibernia anyway? did their great-grandfathers get kicked out of the Molly Maguires or something? are they self-hating secret Pinkertons?–talked with union leaders about their ambivalence and generally confused position on boosting immigration. That must-read is here.
[*] Mandatory headline allusion explanation for non-Dylan fans: On Infidels, his early '80s musical triumph that managed to simultaneously alienate and engage the few fans not turned off by his late '70s triumph Slow Train Coming, the Maestro penned an inscrutable tale of laissez-faire capitalism and big labor titled "Union Sundown." Just how inscrutable? Somewhere in this driving tune whose lyrics rail against bigness in both business and labor, Dylan prophesies:
They used to grow food in Kansas
Now they want to grow it on the moon and eat it raw.
I can see the day coming when even your home garden
Is gonna be against the law.
More, oh god so much more, right here.
[*] Correction: The founder of EmployerReport.com writes to say, "You may wish to know (or you may not) that EmployerReport.com was started to combat labor unions' propaganda… and, specifically, to combat the Employee Free Choice Act." Apologies for the mischaracterization.