Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its annual report on union membership rates in the United States. In stark contrast to the decline in union membership we’ve seen in recent years, union membership levels held relatively steady at 11.8 percent in 2011.
Though cash-strapped state and local governments cut jobs, the percentage of public sector workers in unions increased from 36.2 percent to 37.0 percent. Job loss in the public sector was offset by gains in the private sector, where union membership stayed at 6.9 percent with an increase of 110,000 union members. The construction industry, which experienced one of the greatest drops in unionization in 2010, saw 73,000 union members added in 2011—the largest net gain for any industry. Read more »
Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its findings on union membership rates for 2010. The overall unionization rate – the percent of workers who belong to a union – dropped from 12.3 percent down to 11.9 percent. In the private sector, the number fell to 6.9 percent, while the unionization rate in the public sector was much higher at 36.2 percent. The construction industry, where staggering job losses have taken their toll over the past year, saw one of the greatest drops in unionization, from 15.0 percent to 13.1 percent. When it was all said and done, the U.S. lost 612,000 good, union jobs in 2010.
We’re a country that believes in checks and balances – that’s why we have three separate branches of government, limitations on federal versus state power, and a free press. We also have the same set of principles ingrained in our economy, with labor unions counteracting the undeniable power of Big Business. But as union membership declines, so does this counterbalance to Wall Street and to corporate interests’ tendency to lower standards.