Trends in Labor Relations

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In business and industry union membership has been steadily declining since the 1950s, despite fluctuating growth spurts in public sector union membership. Overall, organized labor’s share of the workforce dropped from 14.5% in 1996 to 11.3% in 2013, down considerably from 1954, when unions represented 35% of the nation’s workers.

The rise in public arena union membership has occurred in the past five decades, with the largest growth spurt in the 1960s and 1970s, moderate growth in the 1980s, and flat growth in the 1990s and 2000s. Government structure, legal and economic factors, and cultural considerations all influence labor–management relations, strike activity, and collective bargaining.

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