Union Membership Falls in U.S.
Figures released last week by the Bureau of Labor showed that membership in unions fell by over 400,000 in 2012. That was a loss of 3% of the overall union membership and the fifth straight year membership ranks of the rank and file contracted. Overall, membership in unions in the U.S. is only 11.3%, its lowest since WWII.
Union heads made a statement that the level of membership was a sad truth that shows the nation is still not where it should be economically. Over 50% of the 400,000 members who left unions during 2012 were from public sector unions, which formerly was a bright spot for labor.
Labor leaders also mentioned that the expiration of a signature initiative of President Obama’s first term also caused member of the union to leave. With stimulus money expiring in the public sector, police departments, school districts and state and local governments had to lay off workers. Many public workers are women and many that lost their jobs during 2012 were schoolteachers.
Manufacturing jobs have been dropping since the 1970s and with the growth of immigration during that same period, it makes it even more difficult for many to find work, once they are laid off.
Some believe, including a leading historian, that unions themselves have caused some of their own problems. The historian said the unions grew complacent following the war and became bureaucratized.