Labor Unions During The 1920's

2013 Words 9 Pages
Union jobs were once the backbone of our workforce. Many different trades offered employees the opportunity to join unions, ensuring that these employees received the highest wages, the best benefits and safe working conditions. With more and more jobs being outsources overseas and the Baby Boomer generation retiring, the amount of people joining the unions has decreased. In order for unions to survive, they are going to have to change the way today’s generation sees them, to bring new life back into a struggling industry.
In order to find out why union participation is struggling, let’s take a look back at how unions started. Labor unions were created out of the need for employees to have better rights in regards to working conditions, wages
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Unions seemed to fluctuate in the economy. During WWI, unions were seeing enormous growth and getting important legal recognition. However, that was short lived because in the 1920, participation in organized labor fell as people didn’t feel the need to have unions fight for their rights anymore (Shmoop, 2008).
This type of yo-yo effect of the rise and fall of the labor unions kept continuing. By the 1930’s there were unions for just about every trade. Men and women were seeing higher than ever wages, increased benefits and better working conditions all around. It seemed that union participation had peaked again, only to be straddled with another decline. After WWII, due to corruption and greed of union officials, many union leaders became complacent and corrupt, causing organized labor to lose direction. This decline has now lasted into the present day with less and less people opting for union jobs
(Shmoop, 2008)
So how did Unions Fall? Union membership has been falling since 1954, when about 35 percent of the U.S. work force was organized. This has steadily declined as it was 24.1 percent in 1979 and 13.9 percent in 1998. As of 2015, union membership is less than 11 percent, being the lowest it has ever been (Davidson,
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Right now, the future of labor unions is not looking promising. People are choosing to find work that is not union represented. They don’t trust that unions will have their best interests at heart. With private union membership declining so much over the past several decades, something has to give or unions as they stand today will no longer exist (Rusk, 2012).
Since union membership has declined so much in the last 40 years, unions are going to have to change the way it communicates with workers, and the way it organizes. Organized labor is no longer in denial about its dwindling numbers and diminished political power. Unions will have to be focused on not just the fairness in the work place, but the quality of the work as well (Isreal, 2014).
In order for unions to survive, they are going to have to take a look at the new generations. Baby boomers, which previously had made up a large portion of unions, are retiring, this has significantly added to the decline in membership because the younger generations are apprehensive about joining a union. When the Gen X’s and Y’s do decide to join a union, there are not enough of them to make a significant difference in raising the membership numbers (Kovary,

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