Fighting to Survive, Fighting to Win
Unions in Right-to-work America

Socialism 2017

August 15, 2017

The period since the late 1970s has been one of retrenchment and retreat by the U.S. labor movement. In the words of former United Auto Workers president Doug Fraser, there has been a “one-sided class war” in the United States that has lasted now for several decades. The percentage of workers in unions has more or less steadily declined, from 20.1 percent in 1983, to 10.7 percent today. Over the past four decades (1977-1986 to 2007-2016) major work stoppages (smaller strikes are no longer recorded) declined approximately 90 percent. The period from 2007 to 2016 was the lowest decade on record. Private sector unionization is weakest and hardest hit, but public sector unions have come over the past years under increasingly strong attack, as states like Wisconsin and Indiana pass draconian anti-union laws. The result of this employers’ offensive has been a great transfer of wealth from the bottom to top, with real wages today still below their 1979 peak. The attack on unions are set to increase under Trump’s presidency. This panel will discuss the state of our unions, and what it will take to rebuild them as fighting institutions for the working class.

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