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Union membership at lowest point since 1930s

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Business groups have long complained that the Obama administration is “labor-friendly,” but union membership actually has declined over the last four years to its lowest point since the 1930s.

The number of union workers fell by nearly 400,000 in 2012 compared to 2011, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Wednesday.

The number of Americans represented by a union dropped from 14.8 to 14.4 million Americans during that same period. Currently, 11.3 percent of all U.S. workers belong to a union.

That amounts to “a significant number of workers,” said Bureau of Labor Statistics economist Jim Walker.

It’s been a downhill battle for the labor community. Union membership has fallen by 3.3 million workers over the last three decades, even as more employees join the workforce, and about half of those losses have come under the Obama administration.

Richard Berman, executive director of the Center for Union Facts, suggested this report raises “serious questions about the health of the labor movement in America.”

“The continued decline of union membership, even during four years of a labor-friendly administration, is a sign that organized labor is no longer serving the best interests of its members,” he said.

But AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka blamed “right-wing politicians” for their “political as well as ideological assaults that have taken a toll on union membership.”

“Working women and men urgently need a voice on the job today,” he said in a statement, “but the sad truth is that it has become more difficult for them to have one.”

This decline comes as the labor community has been losing the right-to-work battle. Twenty-four states have laws that allow employees to opt out of union membership.

In 2012, Michigan and Indiana became the most recent states to pass such laws, and many more are considering similar legislation.

“The right-to-work movement is growing,” said Fred Wszolek, spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute. “There are more and more states that are making union membership optional, so of course their membership is going to fall. They’re definitely losing the battle, but they’re not giving up.”

Mr. Berman agreed that unions are weakening.

“I think they’re becoming irrelevant,” Mr. Berman said. “There will always be a union movement, because there will always be a business that treats its workers so badly they collectively organize to form a union. But I do believe it’s becoming less and less of a need for the workforce.”

In the labor community, public-sector workers have a 35.9 percent union membership rate, compared to the 6.6 percent of private-sector workers who unionize.

Story Continues →



by on Jan. 24, 2013 at 8:01 AM
Replies (21-30):
Euphoric
by Bazinga! on Jan. 24, 2013 at 10:27 AM

 bump

candlegal
by Judy on Jan. 24, 2013 at 10:31 AM
1 mom liked this

I have never been part of any union and did not work in any company that gave you a choice and yet in the past have made more wages than friends that were part of a union.  Not all companies treat people like crap.

Quoting meriana:

A large part of the reason people opt out of joining a Union when given the choice if there is a Union presence is that they receive the same pay and benefits as their Union co-workers. They, essentially, are depending on other people to stand up for fair wages, benefits, etc. What they don't understand is that if Union membership keeps falling, eventually the Union will have no real power to stand up for anyone.

There are a lot of reasons that can be cited for companies off-shoring jobs. The biggest being much, much lower wages so Unions can be seen as part of the reason after all companies don't like paying wages that families can actually live on, let alone benefits.  


meriana
by Platinum Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 11:20 AM
1 mom liked this

 


Quoting candlegal:

I have never been part of any union and did not work in any company that gave you a choice and yet in the past have made more wages than friends that were part of a union.  Not all companies treat people like crap.

Quoting meriana:

A large part of the reason people opt out of joining a Union when given the choice if there is a Union presence is that they receive the same pay and benefits as their Union co-workers. They, essentially, are depending on other people to stand up for fair wages, benefits, etc. What they don't understand is that if Union membership keeps falling, eventually the Union will have no real power to stand up for anyone.

There are a lot of reasons that can be cited for companies off-shoring jobs. The biggest being much, much lower wages so Unions can be seen as part of the reason after all companies don't like paying wages that families can actually live on, let alone benefits.  


True, not all companies treat their employees like crap. It's just as true that companies will treat their employees well in order to keep Unions out. Employees that are paid well and treated well are less likely to unionize when a union is available in the area. However, if unions did not exist, it would be a different story. Companies that off-shore work sure are not offering their employees in other countries high/higher wages or benefits but then those countries really don't have any union presence either.

 

Sisteract
by Whoopie on Jan. 24, 2013 at 11:34 AM

I just secured a new job- My current job is non-union and my new job is in a union (mandatory) facility. My responsibilities and job description will be basically the same, Nicu nurse. Other than a slight geographic change of about 70 miles, there is little difference between the 2 jobs. The union position pays 30% more- [I worked in this same unit for 20 years prior to moving for my husband's job relo, so I am very familiar with the system and management].

Having worked in both systems, I see the pluses and minuses in each. 

Non union jobs are much more flexible- flexibility makes people happy.

Union facility are run by the book- but tend to pay more.

celticwych
by Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 11:52 AM

 My husband is a proud union worker for Laborers here in Michigan.  He retires this summer and trust me after 30 years of busting his behind, driving no less then an hour each way most of the time its way over an hour more like around 2 hours each way to keep his family away from Detroit and the dangers found there.  When gas prices were up we had to take 250 bucks a week right of the top of his paycheck for gas and hope it was enough.  I cannot tell you the wear and tare on our vehicles, tires etc.  He has given his blood sweat and tears to the union.  Broke his back on the job, has arthritis and gout.  My husband has NEVER missed a day of work in 30 years except for when he broke his back 20 years ago and when he had to have surgury due to the back injury about 10 years ago.  YOU BETCHA we are going to make more money when he retires if from nothing else but the gas money we will save and wear and tare on our cars and he earned every dime of it.  He has paid in thousands of dollars in union dues and taxes. He has more then earned his retirement package and his pension and all the money we have invested from his 401k.  Not all union workers are trying to buck the system.  We have struggled and counted pennies on more then one occassion.  I look forward to knowing that in another year we can actually sit back and relax knowing for once our bills will be paid and we will have alittle extra.

Quoting candlegal:

It would help if more did what they did in Wisconsin and let some of these union members pay more of their own retirement and benefit packages instead of putting most of it on the taxpayers.   Some of these people get more money in retirement (paid for by the taxpayers) than the taxpayers make during their working careers.

Quoting jllcali:

I know they have to cut funds, but they should start elsewhere.

Quoting candlegal:

Many are bankrupt or on the edge of bankruptcy and do not have a choice.

Quoting jllcali:

But the cuts should not come from police, fire and EMS, which is unfortunately where many cities are cutting funds.



Quoting candlegal:

I would rather see just the opposite.  It is the public sector workers who are costing the taxpayers so much money that so many cities are now broke.





Quote:

In the labor community, public-sector workers have a 35.9 percent union membership rate, compared to the 6.6 percent of private-sector workers who unionize.





 

candlegal
by Judy on Jan. 24, 2013 at 12:41 PM
1 mom liked this

Hey, that is great, I am happy for you and hope it all works out.   It isn't really the employees that I have a problem with, it is the unions and as staed in other replies, not all unions. 

I have a problem with the ones that break the backs of the taxpayers while retiring with some cushy nest egg supplied by taxpayers while they taxpayers themselves continue to struggle.

Quoting celticwych:

 My husband is a proud union worker for Laborers here in Michigan.  He retires this summer and trust me after 30 years of busting his behind, driving no less then an hour each way most of the time its way over an hour more like around 2 hours each way to keep his family away from Detroit and the dangers found there.  When gas prices were up we had to take 250 bucks a week right of the top of his paycheck for gas and hope it was enough.  I cannot tell you the wear and tare on our vehicles, tires etc.  He has given his blood sweat and tears to the union.  Broke his back on the job, has arthritis and gout.  My husband has NEVER missed a day of work in 30 years except for when he broke his back 20 years ago and when he had to have surgury due to the back injury about 10 years ago.  YOU BETCHA we are going to make more money when he retires if from nothing else but the gas money we will save and wear and tare on our cars and he earned every dime of it.  He has paid in thousands of dollars in union dues and taxes. He has more then earned his retirement package and his pension and all the money we have invested from his 401k.  Not all union workers are trying to buck the system.  We have struggled and counted pennies on more then one occassion.  I look forward to knowing that in another year we can actually sit back and relax knowing for once our bills will be paid and we will have alittle extra.

Quoting candlegal:

It would help if more did what they did in Wisconsin and let some of these union members pay more of their own retirement and benefit packages instead of putting most of it on the taxpayers.   Some of these people get more money in retirement (paid for by the taxpayers) than the taxpayers make during their working careers.

Quoting jllcali:

I know they have to cut funds, but they should start elsewhere.

Quoting candlegal:

Many are bankrupt or on the edge of bankruptcy and do not have a choice.

Quoting jllcali:

But the cuts should not come from police, fire and EMS, which is unfortunately where many cities are cutting funds.



Quoting candlegal:

I would rather see just the opposite.  It is the public sector workers who are costing the taxpayers so much money that so many cities are now broke.





Quote:

In the labor community, public-sector workers have a 35.9 percent union membership rate, compared to the 6.6 percent of private-sector workers who unionize.





 


Dzyre1115
by Silver Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 12:44 PM
1 mom liked this

 Unions have outlived their usefulness and unless the person has a job where taking advantage of an employee can endanger the public, ie...police, fire, truckers, wireman, etc....OSHA is sufficient to handle issues.

connie45
by Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 12:50 PM

 I think this was true in the past - especially with certain jobs such as manufacturing.  Too much power was given to the unions by employers in the past.  Unions will always have a stronghold in areas such as longshoring - believe me, I live in a port town.  

A Union is also a money making business that ultimately cannot guarantee jobs.  

 

Quoting lga1965:

This anti-union mentality is anti-people. Unions are made of the people who belong. They unite to have a voice. With no voice, no power ,the workers are exploited by the CEO's.bosses, company owners.


 

JasonsMom2007
by on Jan. 24, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Hubby's old job joined a union.  Eventually he ended up getting a new job just to get him out of it!  The union nickle and dimed us to death.  $400 to join, $30/month in dues, I think it was 20 cents/hour he worked he had to pay the union, then eventually they gave him "vacation pay" aka they took 75 cents/hour out of his paycheck to go to his vacation fund then charged him a 75 cent/hour "processing fee".  They wouldn't allow his boss to give him a raise without furthering his education but if he furthered his education they required such a huge raise his boss couldn't afford to keep him and pay the additional charges to the union!

That was almost 3 years ago.  He filled out the forms saying he was leaving the union and we STILL get bills from them saying he has to pay $800 and they are going to take his job from him if he does not pay it.  Nice try!  He's in a non-union job now.  Never again will we be union!

candlegal
by Judy on Jan. 24, 2013 at 1:09 PM

My husband belonged to some kind of longshoreman's union when we lived back East when we first got married.   He worked for the shipyard at that time and the things he saw the union do, he got the heck out of there.  Some of those longeshoreman unions are particulary nasty.

Quoting connie45:

 I think this was true in the past - especially with certain jobs such as manufacturing.  Too much power was given to the unions by employers in the past.  Unions will always have a stronghold in areas such as longshoring - believe me, I live in a port town.  

A Union is also a money making business that ultimately cannot guarantee jobs.  


Quoting lga1965:

This anti-union mentality is anti-people. Unions are made of the people who belong. They unite to have a voice. With no voice, no power ,the workers are exploited by the CEO's.bosses, company owners.




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