Private-Sector Union Representation Ticks Upward

Private-sector union representation rose in 2013, but political assaults on workers’ rights led to a loss of 118,000 public-sector union jobs, says newly-released figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A recovery in hiring in the construction and manufacturing industries led to the largest number of U.S. private-sector workers covered by a union contract since 2009, according to figures recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. About 8.1 million private-sector workers were covered by union contracts in 2013.

“Wall Street’s Great Recession cost millions of America’s workers their jobs and pushed already depressed wages down even further. But in 2013, America’s workers pushed back,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “At the same time, these numbers show that as unorganized workers have taken up the fight for their right to a voice on the job, union employers are hiring – creating good jobs our economy desperately needs.”

In the private sector, figures show that union-represented workers earned 21 percent more than nonunion workers in 2013. They also had greater access to health insurance, a retirement savings plan, and sick and vacation leave.

But gains in the private sector were countered by losses in public sector unionization. Union coverage among public workers fell from 39.6 percent in 2012 to 38.7 percent in 2013.

“The starkest change was in Wisconsin, where union coverage in the public sector fell from 53.4 percent in 2011 to just 37.6 percent in 2013,” said Economic Policy Institute President Lawrence Mishel. “This suggests that the erosion of public sector union coverage reflects the new anti-collective bargaining policies implemented by several states.”

Click here to read the entire U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.