ON-Lion Letter

"For years," begins a November report from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Mich., "union membership has been in decline.  In 2012, union membership hit the lowest percentage of the American workforce since 1916.  The union business model, based largely on industrial organizing efforts from the 1930s, does not appear to carry over well for today’s educated and transient workforce.  It appears unions have not evolved to meet the needs of most modern workers.

By Mackinac's director of labor policy F. Vincent Vernuccio, Unionization for the 21st Century:  Solutions for the Ailing Labor Movement outlines several ideas that unions could embrace that would grow their membership and improve the services workers receive.

"There are several ways labor organizations could improve and become more responsive to the needs of workers," according to Vernuccio.  "Unions should move away from their traditional operating formula and function more like professional associations, focusing on providing valuable services to members and representing the diverse set of needs of individual workers.

"Some unions appear to be attempting to adapt, but are, unfortunately, only doubling down on the intimidation-based, one-size-fits-all union model of the past," he continues.  "These union front organizations, commonly known as worker centers, are using the same tactics of old to expand the power of existing unions, rather than creatively meeting the needs of modern workers.

"In order to thrive, unions must move away from the old model based on coercion and monopolistic privileges granted by labor laws of the last century," Vernuccio writes.  "The way for unions to grow and better serve workers is to shift to an operating principal based on voluntary association, where unions must compete for the hard-earned support of their members.  Unions should only represent workers who desire to be represented and serve the unique needs of the skilled worker of the 21st century."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports Mackinac.

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