Dec 4, 2013
American Unions’ Troubles Could Be Fueling a Resurgence in Labor Activism
Posted on Sep 1, 2013
All those anti-labor laws being passed by Republican-led legislatures around the country could be having an unforeseen consequence: increased labor strife.
Crain’s Detroit, a business publication in the heart of the modern American labor movement, reports that the breakdown of unions in Michigan—the state recently adopted right-to-work laws—has reduced the role of unions as vents for worker grievances. With the structure crumbling, workers are more likely to take to the streets with their protests, or to file complaints with federal regulators and courts.
So the laws aimed at curbing labor might in fact be creating a new generation of radical activists.
“With Michigan’s hourly wages, adjusted for inflation, at the lowest rate in more than 30 years, a new labor movement is afoot,” Crain’s reports. “Local experts say there is an increase in protests and litigation—the unintended consequences of a dismantled union workforce. And it’s going to get worse.”
With stagnant inflation-adjusted wages, lack of job opportunities even though the Great Recession ended four years ago, and a Grand Canyon-sized gap in income equality, one academic sees conditions ripe for increased labor agitation—and not the kind controlled by bureaucratized unions, and thus easy to negotiate away.
At the same time, A recent Pew Research Center study found that labor was regaining some of its luster in the eyes of the American people—more than half supported unions this summer, a 25 percent increase over two years earlier—and that union supporters and members have shifted from predominately white male to a more diverse workforce in which women were heavily represented, MSNBC reported.
There, something to think about as you mull the menu for the Labor Day barbecue.
—Posted by Scott Martelle.
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