Membership and Retention

over the last 20 years organized labor unions have seen a decline in membership because of the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States. Also many Republicans and right-wing economists believe that trade unions hindrance to economic development. Because they favor an increase in salaries and benefits for employees in all types of companies, which inevitably increases the manufacturing costs. This kind of activity of trade unions often leads to difficulties in finding a strategic investor, especially if he decides to buy the company experiencing financial difficulties, as he have to consider the need for additional expenditures on social guarantees for union members working for the company. In addition, unions often restrict the top managers in making decisions. All these factors lead to controlling growth and influence of trade unions in modern conditions. (Dine 2009)

Thus, the observed over the last 20 years decrease of the number of trade unions in the U.S. is due to the development of new technologies and the transfer of production abroad that has reduced the number of workers employed in the industry, as industrial workers have traditionally formed the majority of American unions. Moreover, in recent decades, the workforce was joined by many women and teens who do not show solidarity with the demands of trade unions and agree to work on terms dictated by employers.

But nevertheless trade unions have always played important role in the labor market and continue to influence labor relations. Due to the fact that many employees think trade unions do contribute to fair wages and better working conditions, it could be argued that both labor unions and employees must continue to work together and strengthen their cooperation. From a union and members perspective there are few steps can be taken to ensure position of unions in the labor market:

– Trade unions should continue to identify, develop and implement strategies for all aspects of sustainable development of labor relations.
– Trade unions and employees should establish a framework for joint strategies and determine the terms of priorities aimed at improving industrial relations, general working conditions and performance of enterprises.
– To participate and play an active role in sustainable development activities of related regional and international labor organizations, particularly within the AFL.
From companies and enterprises perspectives there are also steps that must be taken to ensure sustainable development of labor relations:
– In order workers and their unions could fully and consciously contribute to sustainable development of labor relations, companies and employers should strengthen the right of each individual worker to freedom of associations, and to promote the protection of the right to organize trade unions, as enshrined in ILO conventions.
– Enterprises, business and industry should ensure that workers and their unions can actively participate in decisions regarding development, implementation and evaluation of labor policies and programs in the field of labor relations, including employment policies, industrial strategies , labor management programs and wages policies.
– Trade unions, employers and organizations should work together to ensure that the concept of sustainable development was implemented on an equitable basis.
– Enterprises and organizations should establish joint (employer / worker) or tripartite (employer / worker / trade union) cooperation mechanisms to address safety, health and social security workers, including those with particular emphasis on the rights and status of women in the workplaces.
– Businesses and employers should ensure that workers and their representatives in the unions received all the necessary information to enable them to take an active part in the decision-making processes. (Cornfield 2003)

As a conclusion it can be noted that labor unions are necessary for healthy society and economy, as their role is to balance the demands of all the parties within the production process. Both trade unions, employees and employers must seek to improve and develop the employment relations and effective cooperation.


Arnesen, E. (2006). Encyclopedia of U.S. Labor and Working-Class History . Routledge; 1 edition
Bureau of Labor Statistics (2003). “Union members in 2002”. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor.
Cornfield, D. and McCammon, H.J. (Editors). (2003). Labor Revitalization: Global Perspectives and New Initiatives. Oxford: Elsevier Ltd.
Dine P. (2007). State of the Unions: How Labor Can Strengthen the Middle Class, Improve Our Economy, and Regain Political Influence.
Yates, Michael D. (2009). Why Unions Matter”Ž. Monthly Review Press


Leave a Reply