The Future of Unions? Name:
George Barnett, Presidential Address to the American Economic Association, 1932
“American trade unionism is slowly being limited in influence by changes which destroy the basis on which it is erected. It is probable that changes in the law have adversely affected unionism. Certainly, the growth of large corporations has done so. But…over and above these influences, the relative decline in the power of trade unionism is due to occupational changes and to technological revolution.”
“The changes–occupational and technological–which checked the advance of trade unionism in the last decade appear likely to continue in the same direction. It is hazardous to prophesy, but I see no reason to believe that American trade unionism will so revolutionize itself within a short period of time as to become in the next decade a more potent social influence than it has been in the past decade”.
Questions: 1. What was Barnett referring to when he says that “changes in the law,” “the
growth of large corporations,” “occupational changes,” and “technological
revolution,” are undermining unions? Be specific. Remember that he is writing in early 1932.
2. Using Barnett’s framework do you agree with his prophesy today? Be
specific about the changes you are using to support your conclusion.