By Duane Campbell
While union membership has declined, union workers on average make more per hour than non union workers, have better health and vacation benefits, and are ‘happier” according to “Labor Union Membership and Life Satisfaction in the United States “an October 2014 paper by Patrick Flavin Assistant Professor Baylor University, Gregory Shufeldt Assistant Professor University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
In 2014, the union membership —the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions—was 11.1 percent, down 0.2 percentage point from 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday, Jan.23. . The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.6 million, was little different from 2013. In 1983, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers.
Lance Compa in the prior post offers a helpful correction on these numbers.
However, the current levels rival the days before the Great Depression in some regions of the country according to the Detroit News’ David Shepardson.
“In Michigan, the decline was much steeper, dropping from 16.3 percent to 14.5 percent,” “In real numbers, the headcount of union members in Michigan fell by 48,000, even as the workforce grew by 44,000.
These declining numbers and potential consequences were extensively covered in the conference U.S. Labor at the Crossroads, featured in two prior posts. The Compa post provides an excellent response.
At the same time unions have won significant benefits even for non union workers. In 2002, under union pressure, California passed a Paid Family Leave Act that provides up to 6 weeks off, with pay, for medical issues, to care for a sick relative, or to bond with a new born child. These workers are paid a partial salary through the state’s disability insurance. New Jersey and Rhode Island now also have a form of family leave.