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How We Got Here, Part 2: The Attack on Worker Power

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Starting with Taft-Hartley, business owners have been finding ways to undermine unions and fissure the workplace. (Giselle Chow)

For the last fifty years, business owners have been weakening worker power by undermining unions and turning full-time employees into contractors, part-timers, and temp workers.  The percentage of Americans in a union has dropped from about 1 in 3 people in the 1950s to just around 1 in 10 today. And more and more of us are in “fissured” workplaces, where some people are full-time employees, others contractors, temps, or part-timers.

The story of the attack on workers began right when they gained power and protections after the Great Depression. And it has been accelerating rapidly since the morning of August 5th, 1981.

“How We Got Here” is a special five-part series made by Sam Harnett, Alan Montecillo, and Chris Hoff. These five episodes are airing on The Bay from July 6-10. You can hear the rest of the series by following the links below. Illustrations by graphic facilitator, Giselle Chow.

Part 1: The ‘Great Risk Shift’ From Companies to Workers


Part 2: The Attack on Worker Power


Part 3: The Road to Shareholder Capitalism


Part 4: Disempowerment and Debt


Part 5: Meaningful Work


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