Great Ideas: Can Unions Be Saved? And Does It Matter?

The share of workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement is down to 1 in 8, less than half of where it was 40 years ago. Recently, Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama decided not to form a union in what many analysts described as a historic vote, and a blow to the labor movement, especially after President Biden voiced support for the union drive. The episode points to a bigger question in the American economy and society: where is the union movement, and after years of decline, does it have a future? And more broadly, does it matter?

Our guest today says that we should all pay close attention to these questions…because labor unions are still relevant, even essential to American workers. But he also says that unions are badly flawed and in need of major and rapid reforms. David Madland is a senior fellow and the senior adviser to the American Worker Project at Center for American Progress. He’s been called “one of the nation’s wisest young scholars” by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. And he’s written called Re-Union – How Bold Labor Reforms Can Repair, Revitalize, and Reunite the United States.