America's workers: A year of ups and downs

At a time when unemployment has remained stubbornly high for America, it's worth wondering whether what kind of role unions could and should be playing in the U.S. today.

Taking it to the streets
labor gallery 1 intro union strike

As another Labor Day approaches, we celebrate working Americans by looking at the ups and downs unions have faced this past year. No doubt about it, there's been more bad news than good, as lawmakers from a handful of states have tried to limit the strength of organized labor. But at a time when unemployment has remained stubbornly high, it's worth wondering whether what kind of role organized labor could and should be playing in the U.S. today.

Unions have developed an increasingly unsavory reputation in the U.S. over the past century. As The New York Times' Joe Nocera recently pointed out in his review of Timothy Noah's The Great Divergence, nearly 40% of American workers in the mid-1950s were either union members or non-members covered by union contracts. Today, unions represent a mere 12% of the workforce. Here's a look at the year in unions for 2012.


- Last updated August 31 2012 08:20 AM ET
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