CORNELL UNIVERSITY MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
Jan. 22, 2019
White private sector takes brunt of union membership decline
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10.3% of wage and salary workers were members of unions in 2019, a record low and close to half the rate of union membership in 1983 - when comparable data is available.
Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research and a senior lecturer at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, says she is not surprised by the decline given the hostile, anti-union stance of federal agencies like the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
“The decline in union density is not surprising. Despite the talk of a boom economy, the climate for organizing has become much more hostile in the last year under the openly anti-union Trump NLRB.
“The surprise is where all the density loss is concentrated – white private sector workers. These data also show that the public labor movement efforts at internal organizing, advance work by AFT, AFSCME, SEIU, and CWA, has been extremely effective in counteracting the adverse impact of the Janus decision on public sector union density.”
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