This article originally appeared on Real Clear Markets on April 20, 2021.
Big labor suffered a significant loss in its attempt to unionize employees at Amazon’s warehouse facility in Bessemer, Alabama. Of the workers eligible to vote, an embarrassingly small 16% voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. It was the most recent in a series of high-profile losses for labor including failed attempts to unionize factories for Volkswagen, Nissan Motors, and Boeing. In each case, union leaders bet that they could convince workers it was in their best interests to be enrolled in a union that would stand up to management over wages and working conditions. In each case, they lost.
With private-sector union membership down from 24.2% in 1973 to 6.3% today, union leaders realize they are in an uphill battle. But the problems they face are nearly impossible to address absent a reassessment of their political affiliations – unless, that is, they can get the government to change the rules so that joining a union is less of a choice and more of a mandate.
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