Late last month, the Center for Economic and Policy Research reported that union membership rose significantly in 2008.
According to the Center, the unionized share of the workforce rose to 12.4% from 12.1%, an increase of 420,000 union members. The largest gains came in the Western states and in the public sector. Unionization increased in the Midwest, up from 13.8% to 14.3%.
Even private sector unionization was up, despite difficulties in organizing such workplaces:
“Since the late 1970s, unions have consistently represented more than one-third of the public-sector workforce, but over the same period private-sector union membership has been falling sharply: about one-in-five private sector workers were union members in the late 1970s, compared to about one-in-thirteen in 2008. Organizing drives can be difficult in the private sector, where employers may often fire workers without cause.”
However, the organization points out that while union membership increased in the past two years, it has been on a steady decline for years. Membership has either stagnated or declined since 1983 when 20.1% of the work force was unionized.