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Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 1/23/2023

Alan Weiss's Monday Morning Memo

Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 1/23/2023

The Times reported this weekend that union particpation in the US is at an all-time low of 10 percent of employees—and a great deal of that is among higher unionization in the public sector, such as the post office, air traffic control, and so forth.

When I was 17 and worked during high school in an A&P (that was the largest supermarket chain at the time) I was forced to join the union and pay dues out of my modest salary. When I was 20 and worked for the post office in college, I was forced to join the union. Today, fewer than five percent of workers between 16 and 24 belong to unions. “Millennials” it seems, are not union joiners. (Union membership peaked in the US in 1954 at 35 percent of all employees.)

Unions once served to protect employees from rapacious employers, but today we have federal laws that do that. The mighty teachers union—which basically solely focuses on teachers and never students—wasn’t responsible for the teachers in the streets several years ago demanding and receiving higher pay from state legislators. Those demonstrations were organized by the teachers themselves, in the streets, many of whom were on food stamps. (Randi Weingarten, the president of the teachers union, makes more than $600,000 annually, and an average teacher’s salary is $60,000—that sounds pretty rapacious to me.) Teachers don’t have the “summer off” because they can’t afford not to have another job.

And we can’t ignore the fact that widespread corruption among union officials has vastly discouraged union appeal and membership.

We can talk about automation and jobs moving overseas, but unions that originally existed to protect their members seem now to just be protecting themselves. Entrepreneurs believe that they can take care of themselves and want to retain that prerogative. And, of course, powerful economic times (which we enjoyed up to the pandemic and which will return—strong bull markets follow these downturns, historically) raise almost all boats.

The unions seem to believe they have a marketing problem as membership declines. They do have a problem, but I think it’s existential.


Teachers’ unions don’t act in the interest of most teachers.
—Sal Khan

Thousands of Americans are forced to join unions as a condition of employment, with little to no chance of ever having their voices heard. —Tim Scott

My problem with unions is they breed mediocrity. —Kevin O’Leary

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Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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