Ten things you should know about union membership numbers

posted at 5:19 pm on January 28, 2013 by Mike Antonucci

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report on union membership last week and the news was pretty grim. While the economy added almost 2.4 million jobs in 2012, union membership was down by almost 400,000.

Digging through the data led to several more interesting discoveries.

1) Since 2008, private sector unions have lost more than 1.2 million members – almost equivalent to losing the entire rank-and-file of the Teamsters.

2) All of the government jobs lost since 2008 were added in the three-year period 2005-2008.

3) Almost half of all union members work in just seven states – California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio – though these states employ only about one-third of the U.S. workforce.

4) Union membership increased in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Of these, only five added more than 10,000 members (California, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas).

5) Local government (teachers, police officers, firefighters, et al.) is by far the most unionized sector of the American workforce.

6) Members of the two national teachers’ unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, comprise more than 25% of all union members in the United States, and just under half of all public sector union members.

7) About 42% of U.S. workers are 45 years of age or older. Almost 52% of union members are.

8) If unions were able to organize all the workers at Wal-Mart, by far America’s largest employer, it would only raise their share of the private sector workforce to 8.5% – less than the share they had in 2002.

9) If the trends recorded since 2000 continue, by 2051 there will be 8 million union members in the United States – 6.6% of the total workforce – and they will all work for the government.

10) Five million of them will be teachers.

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That’s not grim news; it’s good news — people are waking up and not joining the unions! Unfortunately, local governments are still stuck with dealing with them.

JoAnn1965 on January 28, 2013 at 5:32 PM

4) Union membership increased in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Of these, only five added more than 10,000 members (California, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas).

This must be a typo. Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas are right-to-work states. The protestors in Michigan assured me that passing right-to-work laws means people aren’t allowed join unions.

weaselyone on January 28, 2013 at 5:32 PM

Damn them all to hell.

slickwillie2001 on January 28, 2013 at 5:38 PM

The only reason the numbers are as high as they are are because of democratic-controlled states (like CA) where union membership is mandatory. I’ve been a member of a union only once, for three months when I worked at Disneyland the summer before my senior year in high school. Never again.

RoadRunner on January 28, 2013 at 5:43 PM

It’s kind of ironic that FDR opposed public sector unions and now they’re about the only ones left.

RadClown on January 28, 2013 at 5:44 PM

I might need some Pr0zac. My heart is literally breaking for them. /

BTW: Why is Pr0zac a banned word?

Resist We Much on January 28, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Almost half of all union members work in just seven states

Hmmm, wonder if that’s why those states are in the toilet financially?

PattyJ on January 28, 2013 at 6:02 PM

#10 Wrong! There will be no public schools by 2051.

Just holding pens for human veal.

StubbleSpark on January 28, 2013 at 6:14 PM

weaselyone on January 28, 2013 at 5:32 PM

I was a little bit surprise by that, too, but Texas used to have a lot of union people in the refineries & building trades. Only now they can’t be forced to join and pay dues.

Everyone I grew up with knew that if they wanted a new bass boat they should wait for a contract renewal year and watch for a strike. Slightly used bass boats were always deeply discounted then./

jffree1 on January 28, 2013 at 6:24 PM

5) Local government (teachers, police officers, firefighters, et al.) is by far the most unionized sector of the American workforce.

1.) How on Earth can anyone justify collective bargaining rights for employees already covered by civil service regulation? Aren’t they already protected from the mean old boss?

2.) It’s not bargaining when one side of the table has bought and paid for the other side of the table. It’s money laundering!!!

Therefore, public employee unions have got to go….NOW!

Lew on January 28, 2013 at 6:28 PM

It’s kind of ironic that FDR opposed public sector unions and now they’re about the only ones left.

RadClown on January 28, 2013 at 5:44 PM

The government has the ability to print money, the private sector doesn’t…

Tim Zank on January 28, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Ten things you should know about union membership numbers

…stop right there!…if it involves more than ten fingers!…we don’t need to know the numbers!

KOOLAID2 on January 28, 2013 at 6:45 PM

3 out of 5 the best performing states from a union perspective were Right-to-Work states. That says something. If unions had to earn their membership instead depending on force, they’d be better off in the long run. In non-Right to Work states unions just slack off. For example, the union officials I ran across usually showed little to no interest in the problems of their membership. Why should they, the membership was locked in, no matter how little their union did.

Fred 2 on January 28, 2013 at 7:16 PM

Public sector or private?

Mimzey on January 28, 2013 at 7:20 PM

Michigan’s passage of the right-to-work legislation has yet to come into effect.

It will be interesting to see what happens when mandatory participation and required dues collection is no longer the stick that keeps the rank-and-file in line.

There will be questions, decisions, and probably, a great change in the way unions operate.

I’m here in Michigan, mandatory union, and watching with great interest…

heldmyw on January 28, 2013 at 7:26 PM

Almost half of all union members work in just seven states

Hmmm, wonder if that’s why those states are in the toilet financially?

PattyJ on January 28, 2013 at 6:02 PM

Just a coincidence…

teejk on January 28, 2013 at 7:27 PM

heldmyw on January 28, 2013 at 7:26 PM

I saw an article the other day where a union in MI was planning to sue employees of companies covered by collective bargaining agreements where those employees decided to opt out of paying union dues, on the basis that those who do not pay union dues are “freeloading”.

Never mind the legal fallacy of this issue (in that collective bargaining agreements can be made to apply only to union members), they want to sue you for not coughing up dues to them. F*cking parasites lol…

Wanderlust on January 28, 2013 at 7:59 PM

Imagine the looks I get from fellow teachers and students when they find out that I opted out of the union years ago. Teachers here in California get to do that! I am hoping to lead a movement.

InTheBellyoftheBeast on January 28, 2013 at 8:45 PM

Given the high proportion of teachers as a percentage (25%) of all unionized and of public sector (about 50%) union members, perhaps people might be interested to know that teacher unions, as opposed to most any other union, do not have to be certified (win a secret ballot election).

I understand that this is because they are required by law or something (so I may be wrong).

Opting out is not the same as voting in a secret ballot election. Card check, I understand, was an attempt to circumvent the secret ballot because someone could be publicly in favor of unionization (due to peer pressure and work relations with other employees) then vote against it in the privacy of the voting booth (and nobody will know).

Russ808 on January 28, 2013 at 9:18 PM

Unions delenda est.

BDavis on January 28, 2013 at 11:17 PM

It’s kind of ironic that FDR opposed public sector unions and now they’re about the only ones left.

RadClown on January 28, 2013 at 5:44 PM

The government has the ability to print money, the private sector doesn’t…

Tim Zank on January 28, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Or just raise taxes…

taterblade on January 29, 2013 at 7:04 AM

Unions are the spawn of communism, and the puppets of gangsters.

JackM on January 29, 2013 at 2:48 PM