Since Barkin and Kerr had their say in 1961, union membership has increased by nearly 5 million. In most recent years, unions have been organizing new workers at an annual rate of about 250,000 and the 22 million Americans now belonging to unions constitute a record high. In absolute terms, unions have done rather well. In relative terms, they have just about held their own. That is, in 1961, 22.3 percent of the total labor force were in unions; by 1974, that figure was 21.6 percent—not a substantial loss considering the prevalence of Nixonism, and the growth of the labor force with which unions had to keep pace.
Nailing the myth of labor’s demise is one thing, but that myth dies hard, probably be...
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