Andrew Sullivan blogs about the demise of the union movement.
In light ofÂ yesterdayâs rulingÂ inÂ Harris v.Â Quinn, which limited theÂ abilityÂ of public sector unions to collect dues from non-members,Â Philip BumpÂ exploresÂ the shiftingÂ landscape of organized labor in America:
The decline in union membership is itself in part due to politics. In 2012, Michigan and Indiana passed âright to workâ laws backed by conservative groups that allow workers to benefit from union-negotiated contracts without having to make any contributionÂ to the union. Thatâs the issue at the heart ofÂ Harris. And thereâs a reason groups opposed to unionization focus on it: Ending the practice would grievously harm public sector unions.
Public sector unions have been a bright spot in the labor movement.Â The graph [seen above] shows how membership has plummeted overall, but held steady in public sector employment. The dashed lines, incidentally, shows those employees covered under a union contract but who are not union members.
Jake RosenfeldÂ pushes backÂ against the fearsÂ of the pro-labor left â and the hopes of anti-labor right- thatÂ âright-to-workâ laws will deal a death blow to unions:
Despite all the heated rhetoric on both sides of the union divide, there isnât much evidence that âright-to-workâ laws actually reduce union representation.Â Consider the following:
- In the United States, according toÂ researchÂ by the economist William Moore, the vast majority of workers covered by collective bargaining contracts in âright-to-workâ states pay union dues. Freeriding is rare. Many workers likely feel guilty for receiving benefits for freeâand their union-contributing co-workers serve as constant reminders that they are benefitting from othersâ labor.
- In recent years, the success of unions in Las Vegasâmost notably the Culinary Workers Local 226âhas been a real bright spot for organized labor in the United States. Las Vegas, of course, is in Nevada, a âright-to-workâ state. (Other âright-to-workâ states have quite low unionization rates, but their rates were already low prior to passing âright-to-workâ legislation.)
- Across other industrialized nations, researchÂ findsÂ that âclosed-shopâ provisions that compel the paying of union dues in unionized workplaces have little correlation with union strength.