It’s not your dad’s union anymore. The strength of the unions during the 50’s or 80’s is long gone.
The nation’s labor unions suffered sharp declines in membership last year, led by losses among public sector workers in financially struggling states and municipalities. According to the Bureau of Labor union rates are at the lowest level since the 1930’s. Union membership fell in 34 states.
Total union membership decreased by about 400,000 workers with teachers’ unions hardest hit. Public sector union worker numbers dropped though due in large part to cash strapped cities and localities reducing staff.
Detroit News: Michigan accounted for about 10 percent of the nation’s loss of unionized workers as the Wolverine State fell to the seventh most-unionized state, from fifth in 2011.
In Michigan, union membership fell more sharply than the national average; It was down to 16.6 percent in 2012, compared with 17.5 percent in 2011. Michigan lost 42,000 union workers, falling to 629,000 in 2012.
Union administration in states like Wisconsin and Michigan are bracing for additional union member loss as new state laws moving toward ‘right to work’ status take effect. Promoters of the unions remind workers that union worker wages remain higher than nonunion. Others, particularly looking at public sector benefits, including pensions are pushing for changes that will allow the cities to reduce their debt to retired employees.
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