Labor Day: Union membership in decline

Union membership has declined in recent decades.
Union membership has declined in recent decades.
Labor Day is a beloved holiday, even if labor unions have lost power in American life.

    Unions have a long history in the U.S., but they've taken a few blows. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the use of agency fees from non-consenting public-sector employees violated the First Amendment. In other words, unions can't collect mandatory fees from nonmembers to cover a slice of collective bargaining costs.
    Even so, an analysis by the publication Politico shows some unions actually reported having more money at the end of 2018. So, unions might not be on the way out after all. Here is the rundown, along with links for further study:
  •  Is membership in labor unions increasing or decreasing?

       Union membership has been declining for years. "The union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions--was 10.5 percent in 2018, down by .2 percentage points from 2017," according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions was 14.7 million in 2018.
       Union membership has dropped precipitously in recent decades. "In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent and there were 17.7 million union workers," the bureau reports.

  • So, do Americans not like unions?

       Actually, 55 percent of Americans surveyed viewed unions favorably, while 33 percent held an unfavorable view, a 2018 Pew Research Center survey found.

  • Which occupations are more likely to have unionized workers?

      The union membership rate of public-sector workers is 33.9 percent, according to the bureau. That's more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers --6.4 percent.
      The highest unionization rates were among protective service occupation workers, 33.9 percent of whom belonged to unions.
  • Which states have the most union members?

     Hawaii and New York had the highest union membership rates, with 23.1 percent and 22.3 percent, respectively. North Carolina and South Carolina had the lowest at 2.7 percent each.

     To know more:


     Labor Day: A long journey for workers' rights

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