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Labor Unions Continue to Decline Despite Attempts at Intervention from the Whitehouse

UnionThe Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report on union membership last week and the news was somewhat bleak for pro-union forces. Though the economy added almost 2.4 million jobs in 2012, union membership dropped by almost 400,000. Now, several recent appointments by President Obama to the National Labor Relations Board have been struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Much of the downturn in union membership can be attributed to the number of states that have right-to-work laws. Michigan is on the threshold of becoming the 24th state with a right-to-work law, which would prohibit requiring workers to join a union or pay fees that are equivalent to union dues as a condition of employment.

States with such laws include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.

A brief overview of the latest report on labor unions from the U.S. Department of Labor reveals:

  • Since 2008, private sector unions have lost more than 1.2 million members – almost equivalent to losing the entire rank-and-file of the Teamsters.
  • All of the government jobs lost since 2008 were added in the three-year period 2005-2008.
  • Almost half of all union members work in just seven states – California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio – though these states employ only about one-third of the U.S. workforce.
  • Union membership increased in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Of these, only five added more than 10,000 members (California, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas).
  • Local government (teachers, police officers, firefighters, et al.) is by far the most unionized sector of the American workforce.
  • Members of the two national teachers’ unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, comprise more than 25% of all union members in the United States, and just under half of all public sector union members.
  • About 42% of U.S. workers are 45 years of age or older. Almost 52% of union members are.
  • If unions were able to organize all the workers at Wal-Mart, by far America’s largest employer, it would only raise their share of the private sector workforce to 8.5% – less than the share they had in 2002.
  • If the trends recorded since 2000 continue, by 2051 there will be 8 million union members in the United States – 6.6% of the total workforce – and they will all work for the government.
  • Five million of them will be teachers.

The recent ruling by the courts concerning the President’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board is yet another roadblock before what was once an unstoppable force. The ruling came as a result of a brief filed for four workers who are receiving free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys in cases pending before the Board.

Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following statement in light of the court’s decision:

“The court’s decision in Noel Canning is a victory for independent-minded workers who have received unjust treatment at the hands of the pro-Big Labor NLRB and will hopefully serve as a persuasive example to other federal courts deciding on the validity of Obama’s purported recess appointments.”

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  1. I “WAS” in the IBEW 11 years. I came in “the back door” so to speak- meaning I did not go through the endoctrination period, I mean the apprenticeship program. When I started, I was working for a very large non-union electrical construction company. I mainly left non-union because of the “freedom” you get in the union-meaning the ability to turn down work if you don’t want to travel say over an hour to work, or you don’t like the contractor, or you want to move out of town. You get the picture. Also, in the unions, typically there is a set of “standards” in other words a “Journey man Electrician” or “wireman” is supposed to know what he/she is doing. I had to take a test to get in. Acually several of them. The Local in my area always has it’s sights set on individuals who “know what they’re doing”. They have their snitches, or plants in the non-union companies out there. They like to lure these folks away from the non-union company to the union in hopes that it will help to “force” the non-union company into going union. They figure if they take away all of the qualified workers, then they will have NO choice, and THAT IS the main objective of ALL unions-to get ALL labor organized. The IBEW stands for The International “BROTHERHOOD” of Electrical Workers. Well, it was anything but that. Some guys called it “The International motherhood of brother [email protected]$#%$s. In other words, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I think back, and it’s really just an over glorified employment agency. People used to say to me ” wow, i’ll bet you guys make real good money in the electrical union. Well, yes we did. However, if you only work 1/3 of the year, and are laid off the rest of the time then what are you making? Also shortly after getting laid off, your medical benifits run out too. So, lets see, now, about $500 per year for a “ticket” this says your an IBEW member in good standing, and allows you to “sign the book”. It allows you to work. Then it’s about 6% per week from your paycheck. At one time it was the place to be. No doubt about it. But now it’s too corrupt. Just like all politically based organizations. The unions also like to use YOUR dues money for their own political agenda. Whether you like it or not. They do it. Just go to a meeting and stand up and question them, and see how much work you get. Just not worth the grief.

    • I have been and continue to be a member in good standingof the U.B.C. for almost thirty years. I am a member in good standing. I got in the front door,with hard work determination and resolve to be the best i could be at my craft. .I was indentured in a formal apprenticeship program,I worked during the day and went to school at night,I only wanted, and still do, a days pay for a days work,with FAIR wages and benefits.
      My membership in the BROTHERHOOD provides me with collective bargaining for the fair wages and benefits that are so important to the quality of life for me and my family.
      I earn a modest living and only get compensated for fairly for it, wages and benefits are negoitiated thru collective bargaining, and I do believe in the old saying UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL(, or should I SAY BEG.)

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