[Marxism] "America would be better off with more strikes"
daynegoodwin at gmail.com
Mon Sep 10 07:19:40 MDT 2012
America would be better off with more strikes
by Chris Rhomberg, Special to CNN
September 10, 2012
Editor's note: Chris Rhomberg is an associate professor of sociology
at Fordham University. He is the author of "The Broken Table: The
Detroit Newspaper Strike and the State of American Labor" (Russell
(CNN) -- In Chicago, 30,000 public school teachers and support staff
represented by the Chicago Teachers Union are preparing to walk off
their jobs, having reached an impasse in contract talks with the city.
And last month, 780 machinists at a Caterpillar Inc. parts plant in
Joliet, Illinois, voted to end their three and a half month strike,
accepting a six-year contract that contained almost all of the
concessions the company demanded. These contemporary disputes,
however, hide an even more dramatic historical fact: The strike has
almost disappeared from American life.
The numbers are stark. During the 1970s, an average of 289 major work
stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers occurred annually in the
United States. By the 1990s, that had fallen to about 35 per year. And
in 2009, there were no more than five.
The decline in strikes cannot be explained solely by declining union
membership. According to a study by sociologist Jake Rosenfeld,
unionization among private-sector full-time employees fell by 40%
between 1984 and 2002. But the drop in total strike frequency was even
greater, falling by more than two-thirds.
What has happened to the strike, and what does it mean?
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