Unions in Crisis?: The Future of Organized Labor in America (Hardback)
  • Unions in Crisis?: The Future of Organized Labor in America (Hardback)
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Unions in Crisis?: The Future of Organized Labor in America (Hardback)

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£50.00
Hardback 164 Pages / Published: 30/12/2007
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Unionism in the United States was quite successful during and after World War II, especially during the golden years of American capitalism (1947-73) as workers' wages increased quite dramatically in a number of industries. For example, average hourly earnings for workers in meatpacking rose 114% between 1950 and 1965, those in steel 102%, in rubber tires by 96%, and in manufacturing 81%. At the same time as union members' wages were increasing, union membership was declining. Yet, the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) argued that organizing new members was not a priority. By concentrating on the existing membership and bread-and-butter issues, and not organizing new members, unionism could not deal with the attack on the social contract by employers and the government beginning in the United States in the late 1970s. However, while many people are claiming that organized labor is a dinosaur, Schiavone argues that a strong union movement is needed now more than ever.

Unionism in the United States was quite successful during and after World War II, especially during the golden years of American capitalism (1947-73) as workers' wages increased quite dramatically in a number of industries. For example, average hourly earnings for workers in meatpacking rose 114% between 1950 and 1965, those in steel 102%, in rubber tires by 96%, and in manufacturing 81%. At the same time as union members' wages were increasing, union membership was declining. Yet, the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) argued that organizing new members was not a priority. By concentrating on the existing membership and bread-and-butter issues, and not organizing new members, unionism could not deal with the attack on the social contract by employers and the government beginning in the United States in the late 1970s.

Following that attack, there was a significant decline in U.S. workers' wages and conditions in real terms, and there was a corresponding decline in union membership. However, while many people are claiming that organized labor is a dinosaur, Schiavone argues that a strong union movement is now needed more than ever. If unions make major changes as outlined in this book, the U.S. labor movement may regain some of its strength. By fighting for workplace (such as higher wages) and non-workplace issues (such as the fight for adequate childcare or against racism), unions in America and Canada that embraced what Schiavone calls social justice unionism have improved society for all. On purely bread-and-butter issues, these unions have achieved better collective bargaining agreements than their rival mainstream unions, as well as organizing more new workers per capita. How much strength organized labor will regain by embracing social justice unionism is uncertain, but it is a beginning.

Publisher: ABC-CLIO
ISBN: 9780275999667
Number of pages: 164
Weight: 404 g
Dimensions: 240 x 164 x 18 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Schiavone outlines problems that have led to the decline of unions in the US and proposes reforms to strengthen organized labor....Recommended. Labor studies collections, upper-division undergraduate through professional." - Choice
"Michael Schiavone's Unions in Crisis? analyzes labor's inability to move forward and proposes strategies and tactics to turn things around....One of the most valuable parts of Unions in Crisis? is its discussion of CTW and the SEIU. Although there is a growing literature on these organizations, this is one of the first books to devote significant space to their recent development in the context of labor's overall crisis....Unions in Crisis? presents union activists, leaders, and supporters with a lot of thought-provoking ideas and analysis. It should be read by those who want to make organized labor in the United States a powerful force for social change." - New Politics
"... provides a six-country comparison to further explain American union decline...Recommended" - Choice Reviews Online

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