September 14, 2013
New labour, alt-labour
Most worrying for the movement, even public-sector unions, whose membership has remained stable for 30 years, are in trouble in some places. Last year in Wisconsin unions rallied to recall Scott Walker, the governor, after he limited collective-bargaining rights. But they failed, and public-sector union membership fell by a quarter in a year. Backers of “right-to-work” laws, under which workers in unionised sectors are not obliged to pay dues, have begun to make inroads in the rustbelt. Public-sector unions remain strong, rich and powerful in California and the north-east, but overall membership dipped slightly last year. Michael Hicks at Ball State University expects pension pressures to lead to further decline.