Sunday, September 11, 2011

State of the unions: How public opinion turned so sharply and suddenly against worker groups

State of the unions: How public opinion turned so sharply and suddenly against worker groups:

This summer, something remarkable happened: 45,000 Verizon workers went on strike, and no one — save a few customers dealing with service interruptions — much cared.

The communications behemoth wanted more than 100 concessions on health care, pensions, sick days and outsourcing. Unions representing the workers said Verizon sought to void 50 years of collective-bargaining gains for middle-class workers, despite posting a 2.8% jump in revenue in the second quarter, up to $27.5 billion.

Thirteen days later, those on strike went back to work on good faith, the company guaranteeing nothing other than continued talks.

It’s an indictment of how anemic the labor movement in America has become, how irrelevant to the average worker that, even in this ever-contracting economy, the lower and middle classes couldn’t be agitated to care.

And why should they? Private-sector unions in the US are nearly extinct, having long ago abandoned an unwinnable fight against big business. Meanwhile, public-sector unions are thriving by comparison, even though public opinion has been on the decline since the rise of unions in the 1930s, when 72% of Americans had a favorable view of them.....

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