For many full-time employees in the United States, the five-day work week, paid overtime and holidays are expected benefits. This wasn't always so, and many workers' benefits today are the achievements of labor unions.
Just five decades ago, unions were on the frontline of the fight for the rights and wages of the middle class. But today, unions are on the decline.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene.
We'll begin this program with the aftermath of Tuesday's recall election in Wisconsin. Public sector unions took on Republican Governor Scott Walker, and the governor won. Walker became the first U.S. governor to beat back a recall attempt. The unions had spent a lot time, money and political capital in Wisconsin.
NPR's Sonari Glinton reports on what's next for organized labor.
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders at a rally for supporters of Proposition B Tuesday, June 5, 2012.
Credit Gregory Bull / AP
Tuesday was, unquestionably, a very bad day for public-employee unions and not just for the reason that got most of the attention, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's success in fending off an attempt to oust him through a recall election.
Rick Muir, president of the Indiana Federation of Teachers, chanted with other protesters at the Statehouse in Indianapolis in February 2011 over legislation limiting collective bargaining for teachers. Months later, it became law.
Credit AJ Mast / AP
The Wisconsin recall election might have failed, but it succeeded in sending an ominous message to pro-labor forces across the nation — especially in the Midwest, where a handful of legislatures are pushing to roll back collective bargaining and other union rights.
The vote against Republican Gov. Scott Walker was prompted by his support for a law limiting collective bargaining for some public sector employees. His victory Tuesday night could embolden governors in states such as Ohio, Indiana and Missouri to push back harder on labor rights.