Union Membership Down Another 10%

With some ups and downs, unions have been steadily losing members for quite a while and 2009 is no exception. According to the Labor Dept., private-sector unions lost 834,000 members last year.

On Friday, the Labor Department reported private-sector unions lost 834,000 members, bringing membership down to 7.2% of the private-sector work force, from 7.6% the year before. The broader drop in U.S. employment and a small gain by public-sector unions helped keep the total share of union membership flat at 12.3% in 2009. In the early 1980s, unions represented 20% of workers.

The Wall Street Journal also notes that it isn’t likely that the union jobs lost will come back as union jobs if they ever come back at all.

But the Journal doesn’t stress the most important union fact nearly enough. Unions that serve government workers in still on the rise and form the largest section of union workers.

Unions may represent only 20% of all American workers, but government unions make up more than 37% of total union jobs making this the largest percentage of public-sector union members ever. Even The New York Times was shocked that a majority of union members are government workers rather than private-sector employees.

The Journal thinks that the loss by Democrats of their Senate majority will make it more difficult for them to pass their dream bill, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). That remains to be seen, though, because some few Republicans were wavering in their decision not to support the bill. These more liberal Republicans might still vote the Democrats way if we allow them to go unscrutinized.

Additionally, the fact that more and more government workers are unionized is a dangerous fact. We’ve said it over and over here on the blog that unionized government workers is antithetical to good government.

So, falling union numbers is good news for worker’s right to choose but the consequent rise in government union membership is dangerous to our democracy.

(Cross posted at TheUnionLabeBlog.com)

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