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Union membership fell to a record low in 2022

Union membership fell to a record low in 2022
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Workers launched a series of high-profile union organizing campaigns in 2022, including at national chains Amazon and Starbucks. The federal agency that oversees union elections, the National Labor Relations Board, reported and a 53 percent increase in petitions submitted during the financial year.

Union officials pointed to anti-union efforts – not worker disinterest – as the reason for the decline. The House of Representatives passed a law of the Democrats in the last session Law on the Protection of the Right to Organizewhich would have reformed labor laws to make it easier for workers to join unions, but the legislation later stalled in the Senate.

“In 2022, we have seen working people rise up despite often illegal opposition from companies that would rather pay anti-union companies millions than give workers a seat at the table,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler . “The wave of organizing will continue to gather momentum in 2023 and beyond, despite broken labor laws that manipulate the system against workers.”

Anti-union activists, on the other hand, touted the numbers as evidence that organized labor was thinning the ranks.

“The BLS numbers are another reminder that headlines from cheerleading reporters and influence in the halls of power in DC are no substitute for actual support from hard-working ordinary American workers,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president of National Right to WorkFoundation.

“Union officials artificially magnify their influence in a way no other private organization can, but they do so while trampling on the rights of the very workers they purport to speak for, by forcing workers under ‘representation’, which they reject and try to force workers to pay or get fired. For a worker considering unionization, that’s not a compelling message,” Semmens said.

On average, unionized bank employees earn higher wages than their non-union counterparts. According to the BLS, the average weekly earnings of non-union workers in 2022 was 85 percent of that of the unionized worker – although the agency noted that this statistic does not account for other factors that might explain the gap.

Some trends remained unchanged: The union membership rate of public sector workers was still more than five times that of private sector workers at 33.1 percent and 6 percent, respectively. The membership rate for men (10.5 percent) was also higher than that for women (9.6 percent). And black workers were more likely to remain union members than white, Asian, or Hispanic workers.

The BLS report also broke down union membership rates by occupation. The highest union membership rates were found in security occupations (34.6 percent) such as firefighters, and in education, training and library occupations (33.7 percent). employees in the insurance industry; finance; professional and technical services; and food services and drinking establishments had a union membership rate closer to 1 percent.

In terms of states, Hawaii and New York had the highest union membership rates, at 21.9 percent and 20.7 percent, respectively. South Carolina and North Carolina had the lowest at 1.7 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.

Both of the latter are so-called right-to-work states, where workers have the legal ability to opt out of union membership, even if their larger workplace is represented by a union. BLS reported on Thursday that about 1.7 million workers are covered by union contracts despite paying no dues.

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