The decline in union density has not, however, eliminated the desires, and needs, of working people for improved wages and working conditions. Over the past year, we've seen a resurgence of worker activism, from the energetic campaigns by Silicon Valley drivers who have joined the Teamsters to the "Fight for $15" minimum wage. These workers have managed to act collectively, despite a weak and outdated law that has failed to keep pace with a changing workplace in a global economy.
Our nation's labor law was enacted 80 years ago, in the midst of the Great Depression, to protect the right of workers to organize into unions and increase their purchasing power through collective bargaining with their employers. Efforts to meaningfully reform the law in the last four decades have all failed.
The basic ideals of our labor law remain vital to a democratic society, but we need to look broadly and creatively at how to revitalize and modernize that law to fit today's workers, workplaces, and economy. For example, various aspects of our existing law actually encourage, rather than discourage, adversarial relations between labor and management, especially the contentious process for securing union representation. And our existing bargaining unit model of union representation is both too restrictive of employee voices at work and out of sync with a hyper-competitive and churning economy.