Jan 30, 2014
The number of union members grew by 162,000 in 2013 and the overall percentage of workers who were union members remained steady at 11.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said. The growth came from an increase of 281,000 private sector members; nationally, public service membership dropped due to continuing, aggressive attacks on the bargaining rights of public workers in a number of states. That assault by right-wing legislatures and governors started in Wisconsin in 2010 and moved on to Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey and other states.
Fifteen states passed laws restricting public employees' collective bargaining rights or ability to collect "fair share" dues through payroll deductions in 2011-2012.
In Wisconsin, however, workers proved that they want union representation. Another 24,000 Wisconsin workers joined unions in 2013, and the percentage of workers who belong to unions rose by more than 1 percent, to 12.34 percent. That's the seventh largest gain in the nation. In 2012, Wisconsin had the third biggest drop in the percentage of workers who are union members, and because of the assault on public worker bargaining rights, union coverage in the public sector fell from 53.4 percent in 2011 to just 37.6 percent in 2013.
The Economic Policy Institute noted that union membership also increased "in some states that may be unexpected," including Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee.