Union membership is down in the U.S., especially in public sector unions. This reverses a previous trend of growth.
The percentage of American workers in labor unions took an unusually large fall in 2012, dropping to 11.3 percent last year from 11.8 percent in 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced on Wednesday.
The total number of union members also dropped sharply, by 400,000, to 14.366 million, even though overall employment in the United States rose by 2.4 million last year, the B.L.S. said.
From 2010 to 2011, the number grew by 50,000, and the percentage of unionized workers fell only 0.1 percentage point.
Too early to tell if there is a long term trend here but some recent changes at the sate levels are certainly part of situation..
Wisconsin enacted a law in 2011 that curbed the collective bargaining rights of most of the state’s government employees, while Indiana and Michigan passed “right to work” laws last year that are likely to encourage more private sector workers to drop their union membership so they do not have to pay union dues or fees.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said union membership for private sector workers dropped to 6.6 percent last year, from 6.9 percent in 2011, a drop that has caused some labor leaders to voice fears that unions were steadily fading into irrelevance for many large employers.
The bureau said union membership among public sector employees fell to 35.9 percent in 2012, from 37 percent the previous year, and there were more union members in the public sector (7.3 million) than in the private sector (7 million).
The number of union members is down from 17.7 million in 1983, the first year for which comparable numbers are available, when 20.1 percent of the nation’s workers belonged to labor unions.