Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Fall 2020

Abstract

The general consensus amongst labor historians is that the election of Ronald Reagan led to a marked decline in Union Membership that, with a few exceptions, has continued steadily up until the present day. Beginning with the Air Traffic controller strike in 1981, where the Reagan administration fired and permanently replaced striking union controllers, and continuing with Reagan members of the National Right to Work Committee to the National Labor Rights Board, a legal and political climate hostile to union organizing emerged in the U.S.. In my research, my hope was to take popular and agreed upon census data and, by doing specific grouping and analysis of membership data by region, highlight particularities that offer a more complex view of the decline of American Labor. In addition, I attempted a comparative analysis between changes in union membership and changes in the mean minimum wage throughout these regions, in order to highlight what the private sector had to gain by disempowering union networks.

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