Unions Grow, But Their Share Of Workers Holds Steady

Date: January 29, 2016 Last Edit: February 02, 2016

Government Report Finds Private-Sector Union Membership Up Nearly 200,000 In 2015


The Hill reported the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Thursday that private-sector union membership grew by almost 200,000 workers in 2015, a 0.1% increase from 2014. Business groups “attribute the growth to policies from the Obama administration that are friendly to the labor community.” Center for Union Facts executive director Richard Berman commented, “Union membership is apparently receiving a boost from an activist National Labor Relations Board … By tilting the scales in favor of labor organizers, the board and the sympathetic Obama administration are propping up Big Labor rather than helping the rank-and-file.” The Wall Street Journal reported that while public sector union membership grew by 23,000, the membership rate fell from 35.7% to 35.2%. The overall share of US workers in unions held steady at 11.1%. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez commented that the Obama Administration is “exploring avenues for strengthening the right to organize and new strategies for giving workers greater voice on the job.” CNS News added that “the percentage of union members who worked for government was 48.9 percent,” further observing that “these unionized government workers outnumbered the Census Bureau’s estimated 2015 populations for all but 12 of the states.”

What This Means For Small Business

The National Federation of Independent Business has highlighted the challenge that unions, especially large unions, and pro-labor organizations like the NLRB and other big government groups pose to small business owners. NFIB senor executive counsel Beth Milito offered these observations on the NLRB: “The NLRB is intent on attacking the country’s most important employers – Main Street businesses.” Highlighting the Board’s new rules on elections, she added: “It is clear this NLRB policy change favors helping union organizers win more certification elections.” Though unions have less of a presence in the contemporary workplace, they remain strong and are heavily supported by the federal government.

Additional Reading

The Kansas City Star also covered the BLS report.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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