Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Union membership in the private sector falls to an all time low

Bloomberg reports:

Union membership in the private sector declined in 2009 to a record low of 7.2 percent, as a recession eroded employment in labor-organized industries such as construction and manufacturing, a U.S. report showed.

The figure compares with 7.6 percent in 2008, according to data released today by the Labor Department. Union membership made up 12.3 percent of the total workforce, down from 12.4 percent in 2008. It increased among government workers to 37.4 percent from 36.8 percent.

While private sector union membership has dropped, public sector union membership has risen slightly in the last year. Perhaps private sector membership is slowly meeting its maker, but unions have found their rainmaker in public sector membership. It’s terribly convenient that the government can never go out of business. They make great bargaining opponents.

And my, you know you are well connected when the Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis (former board member of a union lobbying organization), immediately states that the new statistics demand the passage of EFCA. From her press release:

“When coupled with data showing that union members have access to better health care, retirement and leave benefits, these numbers make it clear that union jobs are good jobs.

“As workers across the country have seen their real and nominal wages decline as a result of the recession, these numbers show a need for Congress to pass legislation to level the playing field to enable more American workers to access the benefits of union membership.  This report makes clear why the administration supports the Employee Free Choice Act.”

It means quite the opposite. Not to toot our own horn, but Bloomberg and the New York Times reports:

“J. Justin Wilson, managing director of a group called the Center for Union Facts that opposes easier unionization, said today’s data shows that union membership is “an outdated concept” and a “relic of depression-era labor-management relations.”

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