This paper reviews six explanations for the contemporary decline in United States union strength. The authors, after reviewing the conceptual basis and available evidence for each of these explanations, conclude that-for the present-each explanation has some merit. In other words, the contemporary decline in union strength results from the combined impact of various forces. However, employer suppression activities (e.g., illegal discharges for union activities) apparently represent the single most powerful explanation for union decline. Attempts by unions or policymakers to reverse this decline are more likely to be effective if the multiple causes of union decline are better understood. Copyright 1987 Western Economic Association International.
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