In 2010, there were only 11 major strikes and lockouts involving 1,000 or more workers, the second-lowest number since the major work stoppages series began in 1947 (in 2009 there were 5), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week (see chart above). The decline in work stoppages over the last sixty years coincides with the ongoing decline in union membership as a share of all workers, from a high of 32.5% of all workers in 1953 (almost 1 in 3) to 11.9% in 2010 (fewer than 1 in 8, and for private workers only 6.9% are in a union, or fewer than 1 in 14).
For example, in the 1947-1980 period when union membership averaged 30% of the workforce, there was an average of 300 major strikes and lockouts per year, and during the last twenty years since 1990, union membership has dropped to an annual average of 14% and the average annual number of strikes fell to 26.
Update: In what may be a sign of the waning power of public unions and the start of a national trend to help repair state budgets, here's what's happening in Wisconsin:
"Gov. Scott Walker unveiled sweeping legislation that would severely curtail public employee rights and dramatically change the way Wisconsin negotiates with unions going forward.
To union leaders, and many Democratic lawmakers, the governor's moves represent an all-out effort to end the influence of organized labor in Wisconsin."
"Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Walker's repair bill deals with collective bargaining. The governor wants to remove those rights for most of the 175,000 state and local employees in Wisconsin, allowing workers to negotiate only over salary. By ending state employees' ability to negotiate for their pensions and insurance rates, the governor will be able to increase employee pension contributions to 5.8 percent of salary and more than double their health insurance contributions (to 12.6 percent)."
HT: Phil Beaver