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Labor Unions

            Some 16 million workers in the United States belong to labor unions.
             Although this number may seem high, in actuality it is a significant.
             drop from the once 20 million American workers who were formerly.
             employed by labor unions. What exactly is the reason for the drop in.
             membership to unions? Surely with the many benefits such as higher.
             wages, shorter workdays and workweeks, job security, and fringe.
             benefits the appeal of belonging to a union should remain high, so.
             what has caused the downfall?.
             According to the census taken at the end of 1997, when the most.
             recent count was made, only 14.1% of workers belonged to unions,.
             the lowest percentage since 1936 (Gross 23). This alone is a dramatic.
             decrease from when unions were at their height at the end of World.
             War II when 35.3% of Americans were in unions (Galenson 13). One.
             specific cause of this fall of union membership is the decline of.
             manufacturing in America and the transfer of much manufacturing.
             work over seas (Gross 24). Because of advances in technology and.
             labor saving innovations, fewer people are required to make steel and.
             are needed to assemble automobiles. As a result, only 16.1% of U.S.
             workers now work in factories, down from 22.8% twenty years ago.
             (Aronwitz 2). There has also been a decrease in size of the large.
             corporations, which in the past usually signed industrywide contracts.
             to produce a particular item. The latest figures show that the 800.
             largest firms employed 17% of the total workforce, down from 25.7%.
             twenty years ago (Aronwitz 3). Many of these companies have their.
             work done abroad. For example Nike does not make a single shoe in.
             the United States and many insurance companies are even having.
             paperwork processed over seas (Hacker 45). At home corporate jobs.
             are frequently assigned to temporary workers, who are often classified.
             as independent contractors and are not very likely to join unions.
             Indeed, there are fewer long-term jobs, something union seniority.

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