The implications of the Great Recession of 2008 on U. S. Unionization The great recession of 2008 affected many facets of life but the most affected one is employment and income generation at the workplace that led to strained relationships, divorces, and a host of other eventualities in the lives of the people. For others, life has never been the same after the recession while others managed and came out successful. Economic sectors, government, and nongovernmental organizations were also affected by the global financial crisis of 2008. U. S. Unionization is among the affected facets in the economy in the United States by the great recession.
The aim of this study is to analyze the implications of the great recession of 2008 on U. S. Unionization. One of the earliest implications of the 2008 recession on the U. S. Unionization is in the conduct of its activities where there was a stop on striking by workers (Serrano, 12). This is evident where from Sept/Oct 2008 to May 2009, there was no worker involved in any strike and only five strikes involving more than 1,000 workers was recorded in 2009, which firms the lowest amount ever recorded in over 60 years by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
These strikes included those aimed at protecting workers and the working conditions, as they were considered unethical and untenable during the recession period. The other implication of the 2008 global financial crisis was a sharp fall in the membership of unions. The main reasons for the sharp fall in union members during the recession were laying off workers, furloughing, and subjection to anti-union right-to-work laws.
This is reflected by a drop of total number of unionized workers from 12.4% in 2008 to 11.8% in 2010. The most affected facet of the unionized workers was those from the private sector with a reduction of unionized workers in the public sector falling from 7,832,000 in 2008 to 7,562,000 in 2010. This was because of downsizing of the public sector by local and state officials as a measure of surviving the harsh economic times through reducing costs. Reduction of unionized member numbers as an impact of the 2008 recession is evident with the loss of 250,000 jobs held by black workers reducing their unionization rate of 14.5% that was higher than that of whites, Hispanics, and Asians.
However, the decline in union numbers was disproportionate and mainly affected public employees in libraries, training, and education (Zimmer, 124). This was evident from a reduction of 3,259,000 (38.7 percent) in 2008 to 3,067,000 (36.8 percent) in 2011 in the unionized public workers in education libraries, and training. Other facets of the public service did not witness such fall unionized workers, in fact, some recorded a rise as exemplified by a 1.2 percent rise in community, and social service unionized workers from 16.3 to 16.5 percent.
Due to the high reduction and job losses from the recession there was resurgence in the strikes involving more than 1,000 workers that were mostly led by teachers with 11 in 2010, 19 in 2011, and 16 strikes had been recorded by November 2012 (Zimmer, 129). The other impact that has been apparent to U. S. Unionization is the challenge of negotiations and dealing with companies that operate beyond national borders (Zimmer, 140).
Labor unions operate within national geographical boundaries and depend on the height of economic success of United States against multinational corporations that were affected by the 2008 crisis. This makes it hard for the labor unions to negotiate terms and privileges after the recession against companies that have access to labor beyond the United States. Another impact is the possibility of replacing or off shoring workers as a measure to reduce the bargaining ability of the workers unions after the recession times as a measure of meeting their profitability needs both when the recession continued and after.
This led to the reduction in the number of unionized workers when they are replaced and a reduction in union’s bargaining power leading to the acceptance of givebacks. The other impact of the 2008 recession on labor unions has been the ever growing criticism of labor unions owing to concerns by taxpayers on unfunded pension liabilities and union compensation (Ohanian, 3). A large number of people after the 2008 great recession pledge their support for laws that limit union benefits.
The other impact of the 2008 recession to labor unions is the movement from defensive strikes to general strikes or sympathy actions. This is demonstrated by the general action in the occupation of the Wisconsin State Capitol as an aim of defending their collective interests. This new thinking and paradigm shift would not have occurred had there not been a recession. This shows that there is a chance for new and transformative consequences on labor unions to benefit in the fight for better remuneration and safe working conditions for unionized employees.
In sum, the 2008 recession negatively affected labor unions in the United States due to the loss of voice by workers in the workplace in the key processes and forums for long term security, employment contracts, and national political discourse (Bivens, 60). Input of more resources in labor organization, labor law reforms, and promotion of dialogue and consensus between labor unions and employers have failed to achieve the intended objective and there has been a continued decline in the strength of labor unions.
Works Cited Bivens, Josh. Failure by Design: The Story Behind Americas Broken Economy. Ithaca: ILR Press, 2011. Print. Ohanian, Lee. America’s Public Sector Union Dilemma. The American. Saturday, November 26, 2011. Print. Serrano, M R, Edlira Xhafa, and Michael Fichter. Trade Unions and the Global Crisis: Labours Visions, Strategies and Responses. Geneva: International Labour Office, 2011. Print. Zimmer, Michael. Unions & the Great Recession: Is Transnationalism the Answer? Employee Rights & Employment Policy Journal; 2011, Vol. 15 Issue 1, p. 123-157. February 2011. Print.