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The Union: To the Brink. The lone survivor of a brutal invasion. A troubled commander home from a long mission. From different ends of space they fight to save.
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Since , and with the imminence of a statutory union recognition mechanism, over 2, new recognition agreements have been signed, covering 1. The proportion of strikes that were unofficial has increased to around 40 percent Table 2 , indicating some resilience in workplace organisation. Of significance is that the results of industrial action have not continued the rout and retreat of the s. The dominant outcome has been of favourable compromises eg medical secretaries, and postal, hospital, bus and railway workers.

Finally, national unions have begun to engage in extra-workplace trade unionism such as community unionism eg TELCO and social movement unionism eg the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements. So there have been a number of forward moving developments in the last decade.

The salient issue becomes what significance and portent to attribute to these. There exists a considerable gap between the political and industrial struggles within unions, where political advances are not in the main the result of industrial advances.

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Indeed, they are, in the main, an expression of a relatively passive rejection of collaborationist strategies, not an active endorsement of militant strategies, and they emanate, in large part, from developments outside workplaces and trade unionism itself. There has been no new Alternative Economic Strategy. They comprise 80 percent TUC affiliated members.

PCS is the only exception by dint of its leading officers but it has yet to determine its political affiliation, if any. The stimulus of recent experiences reversal of renationalisation pledge, strike defeat has coalesced around these longer standing characteristics.

Labor Unions on the Brink

Consequently, the emergence of small-scale union support for the independent left is likely to remain as such. Sizeable strikes in the private sector are becoming increasingly rare. Strikes generally are predominantly characterised by being discontinuous one-day actions and by selective groups of workers.

The location of strike activity reflects the distribution of membership. Most union members are public sector workers circa 60 percent , with public sector density being 61 percent and private sector density being 19 percent. Atrophy in the private sector is unlikely to change as the annual number of new recognition agreements has declined since and unions are now meeting stiffer employer resistance to granting recognition.


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Post-recognition, many employers who reluctantly conceded recognition are attempting to limit its worth. Currently, unions have to run five recognition campaigns to win every two. This indicates that the positive features are contested and counter-balanced by other developments. Of course, the key point for socialists concerns how to understand the portent of these positive developments.

But before this can be attempted, existing, longer-term trajectories and tendencies must also be considered. This adds another important corrective. Taking the year as the historical turning point allows the last decade to be put in a historical context. Membership stood at In it stood at 7. Now nearly 50 percent of workers have never been union members at any time, and only 11 percent of workers aged 16 to 24 and only 25 percent of workers aged 25 to 34 are members,7 signalling an ageing membership.

In there were , union workplace reps like shop stewards.

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In there were some , Workplace union organisation has been severely weakened in most places and atrophied elsewhere. The vibrant networks of inter- and intra-industry shop stewards no longer exist in any meaningful way. The major exceptions to this pattern are a number of workplaces in the public and ex-public sector that can support strikes see before. Membership participation in unions is low. The percentage of workplaces covered by recognition fell from 64 percent to 42 percent while the percentage of workers in workplaces with recognition fell from 66 percent to 47 percent Strike activity has fallen from 2, strikes in , with 4.

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    Subject Organization. Subject Person. End Date. Start Date. Subject Geog Full Text. Description Place Made. And the recent changes will only add to the brain drain. And that is exactly the point, said David Madland, senior fellow at the left-leaning Center for American Progress. Earlier this month, a State Department intelligence analyst resigned after the White House blocked parts of his written testimony to Congress citing evidence that climate change is a threat to national security.

    But according to John York, a policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, federal unions are in need of reform. Public sector employees already have more statutory protections than workers in the private sector, he said. An attorney at the Boston EPA office noted that, like other employees, she could have made more money in the private sector.

    But, in addition to believing in the mission, the attorney valued the benefits and flexibility of working for the government. Now all of that is under fire.