NPR : News

Filed Under:

Union Membership Continues Decline; Now At Lowest Level Since 1930s

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says union membership continues to decline in the United States.

In 2012, American Union membership rate dropped to 11.3 percent from 11.8 percent in 2011. As The Washington Post reports, that's the lowest level since the 1930s.

The BLS says that in 1983, the first year comparable data was available, the union membership rate was at 20.1 percent.

The Post adds:

"Total membership fell by about 400,000 workers to 14.4 million. More than half the loss — about 234,000 — came from government workers including teachers, firefighters and public administrators.

"The losses add another blow to a labor movement already stretched thin by fighting efforts in states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan to curb bargaining rights and weaken union clout.

"But unions also saw losses in the private sector, even as the economy expanded modestly."

In a statement, Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO aknowledged the decline saying the "sad truth" is that nowadays it is harder for the working class to have a "voice on the job."

"Collective action through unions remains the single best way for working people to effect change," Trumka went on. "But our still-struggling economy, weak laws and political as well as ideological assaults have taken a toll on union membership, and in the process have also imperiled economic security and good, middle class jobs."

The Los Angeles Times reports that the drop in union membership comes at a critical time: Wal-Mart and other companies have begun talking about bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

The Times continues:

"New manufacturing jobs in the United States usually are not unionized, and traditionally pay much less than traditional manufacturing jobs did. When Suarez Corp. Industries, for example, moved its manufacturing of space heaters from China to North Canton, Ohio, a company executive said employees would make $7.50 to $14 per hour. Former employees in the same facility, which made Hoover products until the plant moved to Mexico, made $20 an hour."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

No Longer Omar: Actor Michael K. Williams On Lucky Breaks And Letting Go

Over the course of his career, Williams says he's learned to separate himself from his characters (like The Wire's Omar). In HBO's The Night Of, he plays a powerful prison inmate named Freddy.
NPR

#FoodPorn, Circa 1600s: Then And Now, It Was More About Status Than Appetite

A new study of old masters finds that capturing and showing off decadent and expensive meals is a decidedly old-fashioned practice. Like today's Instagrammers, it was all about projecting an image.
WAMU 88.5

The Legality Of Restoring Virginia Voting Rights

Virginia's governor is bypassing the commonwealth's Supreme Court ruling and restoring felon voting rights individually. Kojo examines Terry McAuliffe's move with a legal expert.

NPR

The Big Internet Brands Of The '90s — Where Are They Now?

Verizon's purchase of Yahoo will close the book on one of the oldest Internet companies. What happened to the other famous '90s brands, like GeoCities, Netscape and CompuServe? A nerdy remembrance.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.