Why are unions so strong in Europe and so weak in the United States?
In Paris you have to expect the transportation system to be closed down in any week. In England strikes are the norm for the whole society. In Germany strikes are usually related to closing a business. In Spain, Italy and Greece strikes are just a local excuse for a few days off.
In the United States unions have been steadily decreasing in membership. Unions are mainly limited to government jobs where hiring is in the hands of the Democrat-Union Party. Most picket lines are crossed by the general public and other unions. Public support for transportation strikes is practically nil, as those of us in the SF Bay Area know all too well.
The reason is straightforward. Hereditary hierarchy.
In Europe, to this day, you are still born into your social class. And you are still likely to remain in your social class for your lifetime.
The consequence of this, because intelligence and capability are randomly distributed in the population, is that some highly competent people are born into the bottom class. These competent people invariably rise to become union leaders because they can't rise higher.
Union leaders in Europe are the intelligent competent people who are able to make effective use of unionization, internal union loyalty and popular support (or at least tolerance) for unions.
The United States, where we don't have hereditary hierarchy anymore, the highly intelligent people and competent people who were born to a lowly station have no trouble rapidly rising to appropriate levels in our society. Therefore unions are stuck with incompetent leaders. If a competent leader arises he is probably promoted to a responsible non-union position.
That is precisely what happened in California with Michael Peavey. He was a highly competent man who joined the utility union and rapidly became president. Because his talent was promptly recognize by the utility company he was fighting, he was immediately drafted into the management of Southern California Edison. Again because his talent was so evident, it was not long before he was made chairman of the California Public Utilities Commission. From the bottom to the top of the utility industry, in a few decades.
That's the difference between Europe and the United States. They still have hereditary hierarchy and we don't.