Book Review: What Unions No Longer Do

What Unions No Longer Do - Book Cover

What Unions No Longer Do. By Jake Rosenfeld . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014. 288 pp. ISBN 978-0-674725119, $39.95 (Cloth).

Barry Eidlin, currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at McGill University, recently took the time to review the book in the October Issue of ILR Review.

From the review:

What Unions No Longer Do starts where many books about U.S. labor end, providing a summary of how dramatic union decline has been, how it compares to unions’ fate in other countries, and the various factors that have contributed to union decline. While this is well-worn territory, it provides a useful refresher ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointfor those familiar with U.S. labor, while helping those less familiar with the scholarship about U.S. union decline get up to speed. The bottom line, as Rosenfeld concludes, is that “the private sector in this country is now nearly union-free, to a degree not seen in a century” (p. 30).

The qualifier about the private sector is important because of the large difference in union density between the private and public sectors. While the private sector is nearly union-free, roughly one-third of public-sector workers are union members. A majority of union members now work in the public sector. While some point to recent union growth in the public sector as a positive sign, Rosenfeld is more cautious. Although he recognizes the significance of these gains, he contends that public-sector growth cannot be the focus of union revitalization efforts. Just by sheer numbers, at barely one-tenth of overall employment, the public sector is too small to make a serious dent in aggregate union density. But more important, public-sector workers on average are better educated, better paid, and have better benefits than do private-sector workers. Union membership concentration in the public sector means that “[unions’] historical role representing those with comparatively low education and income levels [has been] reduced” (p. 66).

You can read the rest of the review from ILR Review for free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Like what you read? Click here to sign up for e-alerts and have all the latest research and reviews like this sent directly to your inbox!

This entry was posted in Book Review, Employees and tagged , , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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