“‘Think Global, Act Local”: Employee Representation in a World of Global Labor and Product Market Competition

Source: Samuel Estreicher, The Labor Lawyer, Volume 24, Number 3, Winter/Spring 2009

Trade unionism in private companies is a declining phenomenon in nearly all developed countries. In the United States, for example, unions represent fewer than 8 percent of workers in the private sector; over half of the members of the two leading union federations (the AFL-CIO and Change to Win) are workers in government offices even though public-sector employment is only one-sixth of the overall workforce. The rate of decline may be slower in other developed countries, but the story of private-sector decline (at least if viewed in terms of membership as opposed to contract coverage) is well-nigh universal. What started as a movement of workers against private capital is now increasingly a movement of government workers against public capital.

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