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Union Membership Numbers Continue to Decline


As measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of workers who are union members declined in 2012 for the fifth year in a row. The BLS annual report found that 11.3 percent of wage and salary workers were members of a union in 2012, down from 11.8 percent in 2011. The total number of workers belonging to a union also declined, down to 14.4 million from 14.8 million. As reported by the Washington Post, current union membership is the lowest since the 1930s.

Notably, states that have seen significant labor law fights in the last year were among those who saw the greatest decline in union membership. Indiana, which enacted Right to Work legislation in 2012, saw its union numbers decline from 11.3 percent to 9.1 percent. Similarly, Michigan, which also passed Right to Work as well as limiting public sector collective bargaining last year, saw its union membership decline from 17.5 percent to 16.6 percent. Wisconsin’s union membership rate fell to 11.2 percent from 13.3 percent, a decline that may have been affected by Wisconsin’s limits on public bargaining passed in 2011.

The full BLS report is available on the Department of Labor’s website here.


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