Column: Vanishing unions victims of their own early successes

The early successes of labor unions are partially to blame for their decline today.

It is time to once again mark the informal passage of summer and take stock of the American labor movement. This year I expect that pundits across the nation will either lament or gleefully point out that private-sector union membership has plummeted back to the share it held during the Roosevelt presidency (Teddy, not Franklin).

The decline is a startling thing. In only 50 years, union membership in the U.S. has dropped by 80 percent. No mainstream American institution of note has dissipated at this pace before. Today there are more Americans who receive disability payments than those who belong to private-sector unions.

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