[Excerpt] The current environment presents dramatic challenges for the American labor movement. Structural change in the economy has meant job loss in traditionally unionized sectors such as heavy manufacturing, and job gains in the less unionized service industries. Deregulation and increased international trade have created competitive pressures on unionized industries, resulting in significant concessions and a reduction in bargaining power. Simultaneously, unions have contended for twelve years with unfriendly government regulators who have displayed little commitment to timely and vigorous enforcement of protective labor legislation. In particular, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) of the Reagan and Bush administrations has reinterpreted the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), weakening protections for union activity and relaxing restrictions on management practices. The combinations of competitive pressures and a more congenial legal setting has fostered more vigorous management opposition to unions at the bargaining table, during organizing campaigns, and in the courts.
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