Since the 1960s, organized labor in the United States has been steadily decaying. A half-century ago, 30 percent of American workers were members in a union. By last year, that had shriveled to 11.8 percent. Economists have offered up all sorts of theories for the drop, from the shrinking manufacturing workforce to foreign competition that has made U.S. companies more hostile toward unions.
But a new paper from Kris Warner of the Center on Economic and Policy Research suggests that the decline in U.S. labor unions wasn’t simply due to inexorable economic forces. Government policies likely played a big role too. ...
Between the 1920s and 1960s, both countries saw a similar surge in union membership, thanks to changes in labor law and the growth of sectors ripe for organizing, such as automobile manufacturing. But around 1965, something changed. The two countries diverged. Union membership held steady in Canada, but plummeted in the United States. ...
Warner suggests the biggest reason for the two nation’s contrasting fates has to do with labor law. Canada’s rules for union organizing are largely overseen by its provinces, and, until recently, Canada’s rules made it much easier for workers in the private sector to form a union. A majority of employees in the workplace simply needed to sign cards indicating their desire to join—a process known as “card check.”
Speaking as a grizzled union organizer, Kris Warner hits the nail on the head and drives it cleanly into the balsa wood board.
In the time I've been doing the organizing thing, one of the BIG impediments to organzing studios is studio push-back. (Surprise!)
The employees want a union, but the employer doesn't want to have to pay the extra freight to have employees working under union wages and benefits, so the employer threatens and cajoles employees to vote "No."
The employer challenges the size and shape of "the unit" the guild or union is striving to organize. He raises objections at National Labor Board hearings.
If that doesn't work, and if -- despite all the various forms of arm-twisting of employees prior to the National Labor Relations Board vote -- the union wins the election, the company goes to work inserting poison-pill proposals into the mandatory contract talks, and stalls and foot-drags on even minor issues.
The surprise isn't that unions lose so many NLRB elections and, after winning, fail to reach a contract 50% of the time. The surprise is that unions and guilds manage to organize as much as they do.
Small wonder then that Canada has two and a half times as many unionized workers as the United States. And it's even less surprising that Canada has "progressive" type things like Single Payer health care.
Do all the Canadian unions slow down Canada's prosperity? Not lately.