Economics Department


Date of this Version

May 1986


Published by American Economic Review 76:2 (May 1986), pp. 97-102. Copyright © 1986 American Economic Association. Used by permission.


Recent years have been difficult ones for the American labor movement. Especially during the past half-decade, the economic and political environment for unions has become increasingly hostile-dominated by a growing anti-union sentiment in manage ment; the adverse effects of industrial restructuring, import competition, deregulation, and high unemployment; and the tightening constraints of a labor law and NLRB enforcement mechanism that have become markedly less supportive of unions. These and other external changes, as well as some continuing internal weaknesses, have thrust unions into a period of declining union membership, eroding bargaining strength, repeated contract concessions, and what at least some observers have perceived as the beginning of a "new era" bindustrial relations (Thomas Kochan and Michael Piore, 1985; Edwards and Michael Podgursky, 1986).

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