The end of unions?

Republican efforts to weaken public-employee unions could affect the entire movement

Across the country, Republican governors and Republican-dominated state legislatures that face budget deficits are pushing legislation to limit the power of, and in some cases do away with, public-employee unions. Their effort is ostensibly designed to balance their state budgets by holding down employee costs, but in fact in most cases they are also seeking to limit the unions’ ability to participate in politics. Union leaders charge this is a not-so-subtle attempt to destroy the union movement altogether. As this chart shows, the movement is much weakened since the 1950s, with only 11.9 percent of American workers belonging to a union. Of those, 52 percent are public employees.