Why is union membership declining in America? — Vophs

The US labor movement is gaining momentum these days, but there are still fewer unionized workers than ever. In 1983, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics first began keeping track, 20% of American workers were unionized. By 2010, that number had dropped to 12 percent. In 2021, it drops to 10 percent.

A number of factors have been found to erode the power of American unions over the decades, among them Anti-union legislationa strong Anti-union consulting industryand weaker penalties for companies violating labor laws. But a new report argues that unions have contributed more to their decline by sitting on money rather than spending funds on organizing workers.

Why don’t unions spend more money on organizing?

gave Reports From Molly’s research, a firm that conducts research both on and for the labor movement, primarily based on annual financial reports submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor by more than 13,000 unions, as well as the U.S. Census Bureau and other public sources. is based on data. It shows that organized labor had a surplus of $2.7 billion in 2020, generating $18.3 billion in revenue and spending $15.6 billion on operating expenses. Such strong profits were not unusual: In the years since 2010, unions averaged an annual surplus of $1.7 billion.

The report argues that the money could have gone toward hiring tens of thousands of organizers and funding smaller independent unions like the Amazon Labor Union. But instead, unions opted for an approach widely known as “fortress unionism,” which involved “defending existing strongholds of union power, and costly and protracted organizing campaigns in largely non-union sectors.” Avoiding until labor laws are reformed and/or workers signal an increase in militancy,” he says.

In other words, unions seem wary of spending money on expensive organizing campaigns that might not pay off. Reportedly, he made them. Participating in ongoing erosion of unionized workers — especially because criminalizing it could pressure politicians to make labor law reforms that unions want.

Vophs reached out to several unions on the report’s findings, but none would comment.

The report mentions some important caveats. For one thing, unions’ financial reports don’t break out how much money they spend specifically on organizing. But “the massive investment in organizing reflected higher rates of spending, increases in staff rather than reductions, running deficits rather than surpluses, and a reduction in net assets as Labor spent its cash on the balance sheet.” was used to do. On organizing,” the report states.

In addition, not all public sector labor unions are required to submit financial reports to the Department of Labor, and the reports are not organized like corporate financial statements, instead recording only cash receipts and cash disbursements. go The Redish Report reorganized the unions’ financial statements to better match balance sheets to interpret their expenses.

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