PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With the decline of a unionized workforce in this country and growing efforts at union-busting, how is the organized labor movement faring in our region?
The answer depends on whom you ask, and when.
“Perceptions about unions and about organized labor is that it’s monolithic, that it is one thing. And in my experience, it is many things,” says Tony Wigglesworth (right), executive director of the Philadelphia Area Labor-Management (“PALM”) Committee. This private nonprofit was formed in the 1980s to get labor and management in the Delaware Valley talking with one another.
“Many unions are deeply divided between the imperative of organizing, bringing in new members, and protection — protecting the members they already have. That is definitely an issue,” says Wigglesworth. “A second issue that I have observed is that a lot of the energy in the labor movement seems to be directed toward the political process.”
What about management leaders?
“Our management leadership in this city oftentimes is fractured, oftentimes is focused on its own very narrowly defined interest, and often doesn’t engage,” Wigglesworth tells KYW Newsradio. “I criticized labor regarding their reliance on the political process. I would criticize the opposite direction our management structure, who by and large historically has not invested in our political structure.”
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11.9 percent of the workforce in the US is unionized — that’s down 28 percent from fifty years ago.
Wigglesworth says society has gotten away from the idea of association.
“And I think one symptom of that is working people do not see the establishment of collective action as something that is to their benefit. They are ambivalent about it — or worse, they’re contrary to it.”
Reported by John McDevitt, KYW Newsradio 1060.
Hear the CBS Philly “State of the Unions” podcasts…
Unionism in the Philadelphia Region, by KYW’s John McDevitt:
Organized Opposition to Organized Labor, by KYW’s Pat Loeb:
The Battle Over NJ Teacher Tenure, by KYW’s John McDevitt:
Will Labor Unions Survive?, by KYW’s Pat Loeb: