Organized Labor in the 1980s

Archive Report

State of Unions

Labor Relations Act After Half a Century

Half a century has passed since American labor unions won passage of the “workers' bill of rights.” The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 was the centerpiece of New Deal legislation designed to protect workers' rights to join and be represented by unions. But as the 50th anniversary of the law's passage approaches, unions have little cause for celebration. The strength of the labor movement, as measured by overall union membership, has waned appreciably in recent years. Fewer than one in five workers now belongs to a union, compared with nearly one-third of all workers in the mid-1950s. More alarming to supporters of the labor movement, the giant American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations—AFL-CIO—under the ...

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