February 1, 2013
Just 11.3 percent of workers today belong to a union, continuing Big Labor’s long decline. In the private sector, only 6.6 percent of workers pay union dues.
Much of this decline reflects America’s antiquated labor laws, which ”do not meet the needs of modern American workers,” according to Heritage Foundation labor expert James Sherk.
America was a more industrial economy when Franklin Roosevelt enacted the National Labor Relations Act eight decades ago. But that economy is long gone. In fact, Sherk notes, “a majority of union members (51 percent) work in government. More than twice as many union members now work in the U.S. Postal Service as in the domestic auto industry.”
America’s economy has modernized over the last several decades, leaving unions behind. “Traditional unions no longer appeal to workers the way they did two generations ago,” Sherk writes. “Outdated restrictions in labor laws are now seen as holding back both employers and employees.”
For example, union wage rates are legally both minimum and maximum wages: A unionized employer may not pay employees more than the union rate without the union’s permission. While unions happily accept group raises, they often resist individual performance pay. They typically insist that employers base promotions and raises on seniority instead of individual recognition.
Do you believe that labor laws need to be updated to meet 21st century needs? Tell us in the comments below.