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Vol. 77/No. 7      February 25, 2013

Membership in US unions is
lowest in nearly a century
The number of union members dropped by 400,000 last year to 11.3 percent of the workforce, down from 11.8 percent in 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Jan. 23. “That brought unionization to its lowest level since 1916,” the New York Times reported, according to a study by Rutgers University economists Leo Troy and Neil Sheflin.

Among industrial workers, 6.6 percent were in unions in 2012, a drop from 6.9 percent the previous year.

“From the mid-1970s until shortly before the Great Recession [2008-2009], it really paid to be a factory worker in America,” writes Jim Tankersley in a blog. “Manufacturing workers earned more per hour, on average, than workers across the private sector at large.”

Since around 2007 the opposite has been true. Part of the reason, Tankersley says, is that “the factory sector has been almost entirely deunionized.” There are 80 percent fewer factory union jobs today than in 1979, through a steady drop that has occurred every year since then.

Union membership among public workers declined to 35.9 percent, from 37 percent in 2011, the bureau reported. More public workers are in unions (7.3 million) today than those employed in manufacturing (7 million).
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‘If they do this to us, they’ll do it to everyone’
Uruguay strikers win right to suspend work over safety
On-the-job construction deaths rise in New York
5 miners killed in first 5 weeks of year
On the Picket Line
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