1 min read

Season 4, Episode 36

Author argues U.S. democracy is threatened by lower union membership

gray university of washington


Guest Name:

Jake Grumbach

Guest Website:


Guest Social Media:






Jake Grumbach, author of Laboratories Against Democracy: How National Parties Transformed State Politics, appeared on the America’s Work Force Union Podcast and spoke about his book, which attempts to make a direct correlation between organized labor and the strength of America’s democracy. 

Grumbach is also an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington.

According to the findings in his book, Grumback said a decrease in the overall number of union members has weakened democracy in the U.S. As organized labor membership decreased, it detached workers from their work identity. This meant breadbox topics, such as wages, were no longer a main voting issue. Over time, this change in identity, he argued, has threatened the democratic process and lowered the quality of America’s democracy.

The decline in union membership not only weakened democracy, but it hurt diversity and inclusion, said Grumbach. He then discussed the increasing wage gap between men and women and the different races. 

He also spoke about current statistical trends that reveal several bright spots for organized labor. Grumbach, though, is still concerned about the outsourcing of U.S. manufacturing jobs and explained why there will not be a significant increase in overall union membership until more manufacturing jobs return to the U.S. 

Listen to the entire episode to learn more about these topics.

America’s Work Force is the only daily labor podcast in the US and has been on the air since 1993, supplying listeners with useful, relevant input into their daily lives through fact-finding features, in-depth interviews, informative news segments and practical consumer reports. America’s Work Force is committed to providing an accessible venue in which America's workers and their families can hear discussion on important, relevant topics such as employment, healthcare, legislative action, labor-management relations, corporate practices, finances, local and national politics, consumer reports and labor issues.

America’s Work Force Union Podcast is brought to you in part by our sponsors: AFL-CIO, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Musicians Local 4, American Alliance for Manufacturing, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 50, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, Ironworkers Great Lakes District Council, The Labor Citizen newspaper, Laborers International Union of The National Labor Office of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, North America, North Coast Area Labor Federation, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Survey and Ballot Systems, United Labor Agency, United Steelworkers.


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