Sunday, 27 January 2013

‘Reports of labour's death have been greatly exaggerated’

New union membership data have been published in the US and Germany. In the US, union density has declined since the 1960s, even though a growing number of workers would like to join a union. Kris Warner of the Center for Economic and Policy Research points out that union density rates were similar in the US and Canada until the 1960s, but Canada hasn’t seen the same decline as the US since. Warner argues that Canada has fewer barriers for workers who want to join a union.
In the US, union density fell in States like Wisconsin and Indiana, that have introduced anti-union legislation. Meanwhile, union membership rose by 110,000 in the large state of California (density also increased a bit). Alana Semuels of the LA Times consulted a wide range of experts who attribute the growth to dynamic organizing efforts, effective political influence and the large presence of Latino workers:
After working hard to get here, many Latino immigrants demand respect in the workplace and are more willing to join unions in a tough economic environment, organizers say.
The militancy of Latino workers is especially relevant because the Latino population in the US is expected to double over the coming two decades. ‘Reports of labour's death have been greatly exaggerated’, an academic comments.
Meanwhile, the German confederation DGB reports that membership loss has all but stopped. Interestingly, unions report significant gains among young workers and agency workers. The private sector union IG Metall reports that membership has grown for the second year in a row.


Unknown said...

It's probably important to remember that the IG Metall is benefitting significantly from the strong export market in Germany, which directly benefits its core members. When new workers are hired in the auto or steel industries - often agency workers - they join the union. None of which contradicts the fact that the union is investing a lot of resources (20 million a year) in growth, including agency workers and youth, but without a healthy industry, the IG Metall's membership would be in the same downward spiral that ver.di's is generally in.

Dirkk said...

Thanks - interesting analysis