The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that from 1983 to 2013 union membership in the U.S. declined by 3.2 million workers (to 14.5 million from 17.7 million). The percentage of wage and salary workers who were members of unions dropped from 20.1 percent to 11.3 percent. Texas had about one-fourth as many union members as New York, despite having 2.7 million more wage and salary employees.Have the benefits of union membership declined over the years, or are the dropping numbers explained by other factors in our economy?Anyone who has lived through the years when unions were strong knows that times were better. Jobs were kept in the U.S. Workers could save money while having a home and a car for their families without bankrupting themselves. Also, companies could afford to pay for health insurance or at least help pay for it. Look at the workers’ pay scale from the 1960s to today and then look at the CEOs of companies’ pay scale. Who got the raises?Companies are making millions, some billions. But few people are reaping the rewards, and it’s not the workers. —Bonnie Hromcik, Benbrook There was a time when unions were very necessary. Brutal bosses ran roughshod over workers who had little recourse. That is pretty much a thing of the past. It seems the primary function of labor unions today is as part of an elaborate operation to funnel money to Democratic politicians. When labor bosses in cahoots with crooked politicians force parents taking care of their disabled children to join a union and contribute union dues, it is time to clean house. — Troy Worthy, HurstGovernment interference and the propensity of unions to demand more and more benefits over the years have caused the companies to take actions to better benefit the company. Many companies relocate and establish charters that bar unionization. Some companies make employees salaried, eliminating those from union membership. It is the same old story of “power corruption” and now to the point that unions are influencing elections for self-benefit. It is a matter of “self-destruction” brought on by the unions’ demands for more and more. — Grady Fuller, KennedaleUnions worked themselves out of a job. They encouraged passage of laws governing wages, vacations, benefits and safety (so workers no longer needed a union to negotiate those items), and the mere threat of unionization caused companies to treat employees better.Union pension funds became associated with organized crime and corruption. They lost the moral high ground.Unions annoyed their members by spending dues on liberal politicians’ campaigns when many of their members were conservative.Unions came to be seen as decreasing productivity, making it impossible to fire workers who do a lousy job, destroying the companies they work for in order to squeeze out the last ounce of profit for their members, and thus leading to the export of jobs and the decline of the economy.They misplayed their hand and lost their effectiveness as champions for the working class. — George Michael Sherry, Fort Worth Unions used to be the guaranteed advocates to negotiate for higher wages and workplace conditions. Over the years legislation has changed to reflect and mandate that workers get a minimum wage guarantee, better workplace practice and the power to negotiate for better pay through seniority and company management.Unions have the power to (force) you to strike, albeit you still receive some of your salary via their bank. Financial stability can still be compromised if the strike lasts too long. So, it’s like a pendulum; you have to consider the assets versus the liability of union membership. — Sharon Ream, Fort Worth Labor unions were the single most important creation of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These organizations prevented child labor, extended workdays with no time for rest/meals, working many days in a row without a day off, working in unsafe working conditions. Labor union action created the HR resources we see today. Yet, with the decline of union power, old tricks are creeping back. — Beth Dawson, Arlington The benefits of union membership have not “declined over the years,” but have come to be enjoyed gratis by freeloaders who simply sat in their swivel chairs and deplored the struggles of the strikers in the field. Salaried employees don’t identify with workers. If you need your salary to live, you’re “working class.”Chickens are coming home to roost now, though. Over the last 20 years or so, the decline in purchasing power and economic security of salaried employees has pretty much paralleled the decline in union membership. As for the decline in union membership, I leave you with the words of my hero, Joe Hill: “Don’t mourn, organize!” — Guelma B. Hopkins, Fort Worth Labor unions have been usurped by the federal government and are no longer needed.Over the last 70 years or so the liberals running the country have passed uncountable laws and regulations that have effectively secured various “rights” for all workers. Things that used to be negotiable and contractual are now mandated by law.Who needs a union when all you have to do is cry to your congressman or run to an agency like OSHA to get what you want? — Gary Johnson, Fort Worth
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