Monday, Sep. 05, 2011

Union Membership Is at a 60-Year Low

Today, Labor Day is seen as a day away from work, not one in which you picket about work. But labor unions aren't what they used to be either. In the 1950s, at the height of union participation in the U.S., more than a third of all American workers belonged to unions. Last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the union-membership rate was less than 12%. Participation has waned for decades, which has weakened many unions across the country. Remember the Wisconsin public employees who fought Republican Governor Scott Walker earlier this year over collective-bargaining rights? Well, they lost most of those rights. You could definitely argue that over the years unions had become too powerful and in many cases harmed the very businesses that employed its members. But unions also helped bring about a minimum wage, a reasonable workweek and rights for employees within the workplace. And that, on this Labor Day weekend, is worth celebrating.