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Why American Engineers Aren't Unionized - A Comparative Perspective
Theory and Society
  • Peter F. Meiksins, Cleveland State University
  • Chris Smith, Aston University
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This article presents a comparative perspective on why U.S. engineers are not unionized. The decline of organized labor in the U.S. has stimulated a new interest in comparative research. Explanations of the prolonged stagnation and contraction of the U.S. labor movement that focus on the U.S. alone run the risk of assuming that the U.S. case is normal, and that the decline of organized labor is a structural inevitability of advanced capitalism. By broadening their scope to include other industrialized countries with similar political economies and different labor histories, students of the labor movement will be better able to identify what is truly distinctive in the U.S. case, and whether it is its distinctiveness or its typicality that accounts for the apparent demise of the U.S. labor movement. One phenomena comparative labor studies reveal is that labor unions in Canada and Western Europe have been more successful than their U.S. counterparts in organizing employees outside of the traditional strongholds of industrial workers and public employees. One key task for students of U.S. organized labor is to account for its relative failure, when compared to its counterparts in other industrialized countries, to organize new constituencies.
Citation Information
Meiksins, P., , & Smith, C. (1993). Why American engineers aren't unionized: A comparative perspective. Theory and Society, 22(1), 57 - 97. doi:10.1007/BF00993448