It should be pointed out that all those "gifts" of the labor movement to the working men and women were only made possible by advances in worker productivity made possible by entrepreneurial capitalism (imagine a campaign to give people free air travel before the airplane was invented). The same entrepreneurial capitalism that the current labor movement, and its allies in the Democrat party view as a blood enemy and are attempting to destroy.
It was not until advancing technology made it possible for employers to give those benefits to workers that a movement to bring them about became possible. In other words the labor movement was not a response to long hours, poor working conditions and low wages. Rather it was an early indicator that it was becoming possible to relieve those conditions.
The fact is that those improvements would have come about anyway even without the labor movement. It just would have taken a little longer for employers to begin raising wages and improving conditions to attract and retain good workers. As society has advanced socially the ethos of employers has moved more and more toward providing generous benefits to workers and labor unions have become less and less necessary. This is why the share of the private workforce represented by unions has been in steep decline for decades.
Add to this the union's tendency to support political candidates and policies that more and more Americans find objectionable and it becomes highly unlikely that organized labor will enjoy any kind of private sector comeback.
This is why the labor movement has concentrated more and more on the public sector. However public sector unions have never been a good idea. No less a liberal luminary than FDR pronounced the idea of unionizing government workers as “unthinkable and intolerable."
The reason that public worker unions are so toxic is that in a private sector labor negotiation on one side of the table sits management - representing the owners of the company - and on the other sits the union - representing the employes of the company.
The two sides have representation at the table. In the case of a public sector labor negotiation the situation is different. On one side of the table sits the public employee union and on the other sit politicians who depend for reelection upon campaign contributions from unions as organizations and from individual union members. They also depend upon the votes of public employee unions and upon those union members to staff their campaigns at the grass roots level. If you doubt me try this experiment. Come to the DNC convention in Charlotte next year and take a poll of the delegates and see just how high a percentage of them are members of public sector unions.
So in a public sector labor negotiation only one side - labor - is effectively represented at the table. The great mass of private sector tax payers are shut out of the process and no one looks out for their interests. And here is a dirty little secret. Private sector workers are a big segment of those tax payers who have no representation at a public sector labor negotiation.
Private sector union members may think that they stand in solidarity with public sector union members however the reality is that public sector workers are parasites whose only way of increasing their prosperity is to make the private sector workers poorer. This is because government at any level produces nothing. It creates no wealth and to survive it must drain the wealth of the private sector.
Most advocates of labor unions can only cite gains made decades in the past as justification for the continuing existence of unions. There has been no advance in the situation of the average worker in the United States in at least the last 35 years which can be attributed to the intervention of organized labor. Workers in the private sector have largely woken up to the fact that they mostly no longer need unions to look out for them. Public sector workers will never come to that conclusion because in their case collective bargaining is a way for them to gain control of both sides of the negotiating process and write their own ticket.
However the price of that ticket is too high for the rest of us to continue paying.