California Bucks National Trend on Unionization

Bureau of Labor Statistics News Release: “Union Members – 2012”

Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the results of its annual survey on union membership. (Click here to view the release and charts.) The statistic getting all the attention is the fact that overall union membership in the nation dropped from 11.8% to 11.3% over the last year. According to a New York Times article, the 11.3% unionization rate is a 97-year low. Not since 1916, when the unionization rate was 11.2%, have fewer employees been members of a union. Undoubtedly there will be many more articles like that in the New York Times analyzing the struggles of organized labor. However, one statistic that I wanted to highlight is the fact that California is not following this national trend. According to the BLS, the number of employees who are union members in California increased from 17.1% to 17.2% in the last year. In addition, the number of employees who are represented by a union (so this number would include fair share fee payers) increased in California from 18.2% to 18.4% in the last year. Given the recession and how hard it hit California, organized labor in California is probably feeling pretty good that it’s bucking a national trend.

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