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Will Labor Unions Survive?

Alba Lopez, left, and Fabia Suarez, center, both of Boston, react to a speaker during a rally in the East Boston neighborhood of Boston, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. The rally, held in advance of a possible strike, was organized by the Service Employees International Union that represents 14,000 New England janitors. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Alba Lopez, left, and Fabia Suarez, center, both of Boston, react to a speaker during a rally in the East Boston neighborhood of Boston, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. The rally, held in advance of a possible strike, was organized by the Service Employees International Union that represents 14,000 New England janitors. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The country’s union movement is in crisis. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month that union membership fell in 2012 to its lowest level since 1916. And last year Michigan became the 24th Right-To-Work state in the country, making it tougher for the movement to organize and maintain power because employees covered by union contracts will no longer be required to pay dues.

So is this the end of the union movement as we know it?


Professor Thomas Kochan, Co-Director of the Institute of Work and Employment Research at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Brian Lang, President of Unite Here!, the hospitality workers union.

Other stories from this show:

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  • Wahoo_wa

    “Why save unions?” is more interesting question.

    • Coachgorgo

      So a worker can’t get fired because…the boss had a bad day…you make to much money…you spurned sexual advances…You do your job better than your bosses nephew…go ask ask the 11 year old chained to a sewing machine in China!!!

  • man

    Because without unions everyone’s pay will drop drastically and companies will the advantage of weak people who won’t stand up for their rights. Learn more about the topic before you run your mouth.

    • Wahoo_wa

      You can’t prove that claim.  …and stop the personal attacks.  They’re not appropriate.

  • Wahoo_wa

    Only 7.2% of private sector workers are in unions.  Unions clearly do not represent the common worker in the United States.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QMDZ3LH5U2B4GAT7J2HS4TCP6E Jim

    it is NOT just labor law that must be improved. that is a given. but the people who runs the UNION suck. My mother who worked for the garment factory in boston for 19 years… 19 years.. got a pension of less than 60 bucks per month! Why is the UNION abusing its power over helpless workers like my mum after she committed to paying her dues every year when she was working? 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/QMDZ3LH5U2B4GAT7J2HS4TCP6E Jim

      BTW.. coincidentally it is UNITE HERE union my mother joined… don’t believe in UNITE HERE… they suck

  • http://twitter.com/KseniaL Ksenia

    It’s interesting that in WBUR’s article on difficulties in the visual effects industry there was a suggestion that unionizing was their best solution. http://www.wbur.org/npr/172910128/among-oscars-fanfare-visual-effects-industry-faces-difficult-times

  • J__o__h__n

    I strongly disagree with the comment that unions should only fight for the right to organize and for their own members.  If unions aren’t advocating for all workers then they will continue to lose power.  I noticed that rather than fighting for universal health care or a public option, the unions were more interested in getting their own plans exempted from taxation of expensive health plans. 

  • Calebhand

    I’m interested in this discussion because I am a teacher that chose to leave my union after seeing flaws in the system. I’m among a very small minority, only 3 teachers as far as I know in my district, that are not member. I come from the private sector prior to teaching where negotiating our personal contracts and I don’t have that opportunity anymore. I called in to ask the host and guests to discuss the differences between the typical labor unions vs the public employee unions (teachers, police, firemen), but they didn’t have time to take my call.

  • Helen Carpenter

    TODAY, after months of underground organizing the food service workers at Lesley have publicly voiced their demands for fair treatment and the right to form a union. They presented the campus food service manager with a petition signed by dozens of workers proclaiming their intent to join Unite Here! Local 26. I have heard first hand many stories of mistreatment and injustice by their managers and the Bon Appetit corporation towards these hard-working people we see everyday. Please sign the petition below to let the workers, Bon Appetit, and the university administration know that you support the workers’ struggle to unionize. Also while you are in the dining halls around campus, THANK THE WORKERS FOR THEIR EFFORTS TO PROVIDE YOU WITH FOOD AND SUSTENANCE AND LET THEM KNOW THAT YOU SUPPORT THEM BECAUSE THEIR WORK SUPPORTS YOU EVERYDAY!!!!
    Here are some links for more info:http://www.realfoodrealjobs.orghttp://www.local26.orghttp://radioboston.wbur.org/2013/02/27/unionsThe Community PetitionTo the hard-working food service staff at Lesley and EDS,After meeting and hearing many of your stories concerning your work with Bon Appétit at Lesley University and the Episcopal Divinity School, a coalition of faculty, students, staff, and campus community members has been established in support of your right to organize through a fair process. The undersigned community members came together to form the Lesley University Peoples’ Alliance for Worker Solidarity (LU PAWS), in order to support you in your struggle to organize a union.We believe that all workers, subcontracted and directly hired, are part of the Lesley University community.We believe that all members of the Lesley University community should be treated with respect and dignity.We believe that Lesley University should provide fair, secure jobs that pay a living wage.We urge Lesley University to respect workers’ legal rights to organize a union.We urge Lesley University and its subcontractors to never intimidate nor suppress union organizing.We believe that all workers should be able to speak out against injustices in the workplace without fear of reprisal.A university that prides itself on having a positive social impact in the world needs to first reflect on its impact within its own community. At the same institution in which we learn about social justice, we have learned the real meaning of injustice through your stories.As a campus community with members coming from diverse backgrounds, we relate to your struggles and consider you to be a part of our family. We ask Lesley University and the Episcopal Divinity School to openly support you as Bon Appétit employees in your struggle for justice in the workplace.Signed,Dr. Dalia Llera, Lesley University Division of Counseling and PsychologyDr. Kwok Pui Lan, Episcopal Divinity SchoolReverend Canon Edward W. Rodman, Episcopal Divinity SchoolDr. Eleanor Roffman, Director of Field Training, Lesley University Division of Counseling and PsychologyDr. Frank Trocco, Lesley University, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary StudiesKelly Franco, alumna, Lesley College class of 2011Hilary Allen, Episcopal Divinity School class of 2013Kathleen Dunford, Lesley College class of 2013Luis Gomes, Lesley College class of 2013Elissa May, Lesley College class of 2013Jamie Rosenburg, Lesley College class of 2013Alexander Zhitnik, Lesley College class of 2013Helen Carpenter, Lesley College class of 2014Lauren Dumas, Lesley College class of 2014Brianna Ehler, Lesley College class of 2014Ben Lyttle, Lesley College class of 2014Rachael MacNeil, Lesley College class of 2014Amy Patel, Lesley College class of 2014Theresa Powers, Lesley College class of 2014Lawrence Richards, Lesley College class of 2014Sergiu Voicila, Lesley College class of 2014Caroline McCormack, Lesley college class of 2015Andrea Nunez, Lesley College class of 2015Noah Mulgay, Lesley College class of 2015Avraham Abrams, Lesley College class of 2016Winnie Cung, Lesley College class of 2016Kerrie Deer, Lesley College class of 2016Meryl Friets, Lesley College class of 2016Mary Langdo, Lesley College class of 2016Alexandra Lituchy, Lesley College class of 2016Hugh Long, Lesley College class of 2016Emilia Mcgrath, Lesley College class of 2016Donna Niosi, Lesley college class of 2016Andrew Perry, Lesley College class of 2016Caitlin Perry, Lesley College class of 2016Fiona Prentice, Lesley College class of 2016Jonathan Sudarkasa, Lesley College class of 2016Leeanne Wallace, Lesley College class of 2016Hannah Will, Lesley College class of 2016Patrick Underhill, Lesley College class of 2016Shani Leichter, GSASS Class 2014Veronica Cocheteux, GSASS alumniAlison Amoroso Kiess, GSASS alumniDaniel Simone, Adjunct, GSASS AlumniChristina Shea, GSASS FacultyKaren Cullen, GSASS StaffKate Austin, Faculty, School of EducationVivian Carlo, Faculty, School of EducationThema Bryant-Davis, Former GSASS FacultySue L. Motulsky, Faculty, GSASSPriscilla Sanville, Faculty, School of EducationDonna L. Halper, Associate Professor of CommunicationSusan Gere, Director, Counseling Psychology Division, GSASSJill Ritchie, Assistant Director of Field Training, Counseling Psychology, GSASSKathy Meier, GSASS StaffRick Reinkraut, Faculty, GSASSRakhshanda Saleem, Faculty, GSASSMichelle Harris, Faculty, GSASSJohn Gearin, Assistant Director of Advising and Student Services, Adult Bach Class of 1996Donna San Antonio, Faculty, GSASSVidya Sivan, Student, GSASS 2013Stefanie Belnavis, Lesley University, GSASS 2015Marie Moriarty-Puggi, Lesley University, GSASS AlumniFelice Lopez, Lesley University, GSASS AlumniApril Lacey, Lesley University, GSASS Class of 2013Jenny Hurwitz, Lesley University, GSASS, Class of 2014
    and probably more by now on another copy…

  • Ahutchison614

    People really need to study what the country was like before we had unions and then they would have a better understanding of why we need them. Its because of unions that non union jobs and union jobs alike are required to pay over time, meet certain safety requirements, provide holiday pay, vacation days, sick days, ect. ect. Early labor unions are the reason we have so many non union workers today they fought and died for better working conditions for not just union employees but for every employee , if there had been no unity there would have been no voice for the working men and women of this country and wed still be pulling dead miners out of the mines on a daily basis wed still be fighting for safer working conditions for are line men to which 1 out of every 2 died on the job, for oil workers who still die to often, for factory workers who’d still be working in sweat shop conditions, for farmers who would be dropping dead of heat stroke for all the men and women who then and now built and our still building this country and trying to make this country strong again. The point is that without unions the countries working men and women lose there voice, maybe the union fights harder for its members but the bottom line is its fighting for everyone in the end pushing for fair working conditions in every state and in Washington. Those in the non union sector and the union sector alike both owe what perks we have on the job to unions, if we didn’t have them wed still be working in horrible conditions if you think for 1 second some fat cat sitting in his air conditioned office as large as your home or flying in his private jet to the Swiss alps for the weekend would give one iota if Joe blow lost his life on the job  or lost his leg and couldn’t support his family ever again your dead wrong because he wouldn’t he would just hire the next voiceless soul to come aboard until he doped dead on the job and he wouldn’t lose a bit of sleep. History will repeat itself if aloud to do so don’t lose your voice so a few executives can pocket the money saved by not providing safe working conditions, sick time,  or health ins. Stay heard be heard support you local union men and women.

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