This article explores the degree to which American workers are treated like second-class parties by corporate leaders. When business firms do well, share holders and managers obtain significant financial gains, but rank-and-file workers do not usually share in those gains. On the other hand, when firms do poorly, thousands of employees are laid off, while managers obtain bonuses for their forthright actions designed to curtail labor costs. These developments correspond directly to the decline of labor organizations in the United States. When unions represented 35 percent of private sector workers in the late 1950s and 1960s, wages and benefits were increased annually. Once union membership began to decline, employers decided they no longer had to consider employee interests. Today, with fewer than 8 percent of private sector employees in labor organizations, managers exercise complete control over their employees. If this trend is to be reversed, either unions have to develop new methods to appeal to new-age workers in the white-collar and service sectors or Congress will have to enact laws requiring corporate managers to consider the interests of regular employees when they make business decisions.
GW Paper Series
GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 286; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 286
Charles B. Craver, The American Worker: Junior Partner in Success and Senior Partner in Failure, 37 U.S.F. L. Rev. 587 (2003).