What Workers Want, Congress Should Provide

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“Norma Rae,” the movie that won Sally Field an Oscar for her portrayal of a textile worker, was made nearly 30 years ago, yet its basic point — that people who want to join a union often face harassment and intimidation — is more relevant today than ever.

Half of all workers in the United States now say they would vote to join a union if they could, up from the 30 percent that said they would when Americans were watching Norma Rae on the big screen, according to an Economic Policy Institute report. Yet union membership continues to decline — down from one-third of private sector workers in the decades after World War II, to just eight percent today — because existing laws make joining a union a Herculean task that few want to undertake.

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David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project