Michigan union membership drops to 14.5 percent

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Labor union membership falls in U.S. in 2014.

The rate of U.S. union membership fell slightly in 2014, continuing a trend that suggests the labor movement will have to step up efforts to rebound from its decades-long slide.The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that membership in a labor organizations had fallen to it lowest level yet, comprising just 11.1 percent of all wage and salary workers.The union membership rate — the percentage of workers who were union members — in Texas was 4.8 percent in 2014, the same as 2013, according to data released Friday by the U.S.

No Administration in decades has favored organized labor like President Obama ’s, yet union membership keeps declining, as it did again last year according to Friday’s annual report from the U.S.“We still need laws that strengthen rather than weaken unions, and give American workers a voice,” the president declared during his State of the Union speech Tuesday. Texas added unionized workers at a few ethylene plants under construction in the Houston area, which may have kept it from seeing a decline in union membership like the nation as a whole, said Boyd Nash-Stacey, an economist for BBVA Compass bank. “Outside of that, it’s hard to believe there’s a trend of unionization in a right-to-work state like Texas,” he said. Only 35 percent of Americans want to see unions have more influence. “The public’s appetite for strengthening unions is moderate at best,” Gallup noted. “Thirty-five percent of Americans say they would personally like to see labor unions have more influence than they do today, compared with 27% who prefer less influence and 23% who want their influence kept the same.” The growing disapproval for union power also extends into membership rates. More than a third of public-sector workers were unionized in 2014, with a membership rate of 35.7%, while only 6.6% of private-sector workers are in unions — down from 9.0% in 2000.

Overall, there are 14.6 million people in unions, with the private sector ones only slightly exceeding the public sector ones in total numbers, 7.4 million to 7.2 million. The decline in Michigan’s union membership occurred during the first full year of right-to-work legislation and suggests that union opponents have found an effective weapon to weaken unions in a state that has historically been a stronghold for labor. That’s a big shift and probably reflects the impact of the state’s 2012 right-to-work laws that prevents workers from being forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

And the decline may not be over. “The law hasn’t impacted the UAW’s autoworkers yet because they are under a contract that expires later this year,” reports the Detroit Free Press, adding that “other unions, including the Michigan Education Association, have been embroiled in litigation over exactly when and how union members can opt out of their unions since the legislation was passed.” Meanwhile, Indiana passed a right-to-work law shortly before Michigan did, yet in 2014 unions gained some 50,000 workers in the Hoosier state. On the other hand, Wisconsin, which famously enacted reforms in government union rules in 2011, saw overall union membership fall to 11.7% in 2014 from 12.3% a year earlier. Right-to-work laws are important because they empower the individual employee, which means that union leadership has to serve union members, and not the other way around.

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