This lecture is the second of two foundational discussions that we will consider before we move to the discuss and examine the elements necessary to build a strong union. This lecture is intended to provide you with a strong understanding of where unions statistically stand today. and how this present standing is impacting unions in a negative manner. We are going to start this lecture with a look at the 2008 union density, or, as it may also be stated, union membership statistics, in the United States. We’ll take a look where union stood statistically as of December 2008 and then will look backwards at membership trends for previous years. We’ll examine the decline in union membership and its causes, and review current membership in various U.S. states. We will look at membership by age, race and ethnicity. We’ll consider the impacts that declining membership has on unions and then begin our transition to discussing the required elements of building a strong union.
Let’s start out and take a look at the current status of union membership as of December 2008. This information comes from an annual report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in January. In 2008 the combined total membership in the private and public sector stood at 12.4% among the employed wage and salary workers. This figure actually represents a slight increase in the 2007 membership, which at the time was 12.1.% Currently there are 16 million eligible workers organized in the U.S. This slight 0.3% membership increase over the 2007 level represents a rise of 428,000 more workers. This gain is the second in as many years that membership has increased, albeit, very slightly. The two years of minimum gains represents a halt in a declining union membership trend that had existed for many years. In 2003, the first year the BLS started keeping union membership statistics, membership stood at 20.1% or 17.7 million workers. Despite the two year trend of increasing membership, Unions must put forth maximum effort and consider new strategies to build union membership if they are to remain viable and strong. Union membership stood at its peak in 1960 at 37% of the eligible workforce. However, It is important to point out that in 1960 only a very small amount of public employees were organized. Today, as stated earlier, union membership stands at 12.4 %, including a largely organized public sector. Sadly union membership has fallen by nearly 25% since 1960 and today there are millions more workers than in 1960.
According to Unionresource.org membership in 1900 stood at 917,000, or 6.5% in the private sector and peaked at 37% with 16.9 million members in 1960. It is important to point out in 2008 membership was 17.7 million but only represented 12.4%. While the number of union members in 2008 is greater than those organized in 1960 the membership density is significantly lower now by 25%. Of course as stated in the previous slide that is because there millions more workers in the U.S. than in 1960. Since 1960 until 2007, a period of 47 years union membership has declined gradually. Now, only 1 out of 12 eligible workers are member of union, compared to 1 out of 3 in 1960. Public employee membership significantly props up union membership because the same ratio of public employees in unions is the same as in 1960, 1 in 3 also. Overall, the union membership ratio declines when the public and private sectors are combined. Then the ratio is 1 in 8 eligible workers are union members.
The decline in union density is dramatically noticed in this chart. Remember in 1955 relative few public employees were organized. For 2008 this bar graph includes both private and public sector.
This graph illustrates the significant difference between union membership density in the private vs. the public sector. As you can see membership has remained relatively steady in the public sector since 1983 while during the same membership steadily declined up until 2007.
This chart illustrates the states and their respective union density. In 2008, 29 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below the U.S. average of 12.4%. Twenty states had higher than the average and 1 state had the same as the average. Union membership rose in 26 states in 2006. Six states actually had rates below 5%. North Carolina had the lowest rate at just 3.5%. The largest number of union members are in California where over 2.7 million can call themselves union members. New York follows California in total membership coming in with 2 million. The greatest density of union members is also in New York with almost 25%, followed by Hawaii with 24.3% and Alaska with 23.5%. Disturbingly, about half, or 8 million of the 16.1 million union members, live in just six states. They are California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. Please take time to examine this chart. This chart is available as a link within the topic block of this online class. Ok now it’s time for a question.
Now that we have discussed union density as a whole let’s take a look at the various demographic groups and see how union membership is presently made up. We have already learned that 12.4% of the workforce are union but who is the workforce and what is there rate of union membership. Men have approximately a 2% edge over women when it comes being organized. Men have an organized rate of 13.4%, just one percent greater than the national overall organized rate among all workers. Black or African Americans, including men and women of the group have the highest rate of membership with a union rate of 14.5%. The least organized are Asian and Latino workers both with 10.6%. Other groups include white workers with 12.2% and women with a 11.4% organized rate.
Now let’s take a look at age groups. As you can see persons between the age of 55 -64 make up the largest percentage of union membership with 16.6%. This is the baby boomer generation. This age group is beginning to retire and with these retirements will bring a loss of membership. It is noticeable that union membership, within age groups, gradually declines as the age group lowers. Notice that people within the age group of 25-34 make up almost six percent less that the highest age group. It is clear by this chart that membership peaks in age group between ages 55-64. This means there is a 30 year gap between the time membership peaks within the 25-34 group and the 55-64 group. This chart seems to indicate that local unions may wish to emphasize union education and organizing among the 25-34 age group. This would arguably lead to increased membership in older age categories as the younger age groups becomes more committed to union membership. Not to ignore the youngest or the oldest age group, the 65 and older group are leaving the workplace through retirements and the youngest age group has not yet entered the workforce in large numbers. These circumstances naturally reduce the amount of union members within the respective age group.
As discussed earlier union membership has grown the last two years. But as you can see union growth has a long way to travel. For the first time in 47 years unions actually experienced a slow down in declining union membership. However there is no guarantee that the skid will not start again. Declining union density is joined with negative consequences. This is why it is so important that unions build themselves to be better, stronger, and more democratic than ever before. Now lets turn our attention to some of the impacts of declining union density as we move to the next slide. Looking at the bar graph on the left you can see the actual membership, 7.6%, when compared to the organizing potential of eligible workers in the U.S. This still leaves a potential of an 92.4%. The gap between the organized and the unorganized is huge in the private sector. Taking a look at the public sector, unorganized public employees still have great potential for organizing, with 63.2% being unorganized. The bar on the right shows that unions as a whole, public and private, have huge weight bearing down upon them. The unorganized represent 87.6% of the workforce all together.
As union membership has fallen so has the percentage of workers covered by employer provided health insurance. This chart, published by the Economic Policy Institute in 2007, shows that decline. In 1979 approximately 68%of all workers were provided health insurance by their employer. By 2004 that number had dropped to around 60%. Hit hard has been the Hispanic worker. In 1979 sixty per cent of Hispanic workers were employer covered. By 2004 that number had dropped to just over 40%. In every category above employer-provided coverage has dropped. This is no coincidence. With the drop in union power comes a drop in union influence thus resulting in diminishing benefits. The impact of declining union density impacts union and non-union workers alike.
This chart shows an alarming trend in the reduction of defined-benefit program, or in other words, a traditional pension program. Last lecture we discussed the differences between defined-benefit and defined contribution. An example of a defined contribution is a 401 (k) plan. Now let’s review the earnings ratio of a CEO when compared to a worker. In 1980 nearly 38% of all workers, union and non-union, were covered by a defined-benefit plan. Now that number has dropped to just above 25%. As the percentage of participants in a defined-benefit program drops the percentage of participation has increased dramatically. In 1980 just about 8% of pension participants were in the a defined-contribution plan, by 2002 that number had escalated to over 30%. This type of program increases risks and put the financial burden on the worker. In fact, it is a well published and talked about fact that workers, union and non-union participating in defined-contribution plans suffered huge losses in their 401 (k) and are no forced to delay retirement or return to work, if they are retired. This is another example of an impact resulting in declining union influence.
In 1980 the average CEO made an average of 42 times greater than the average worker. By 1990 that number had increase to 107 times. In 2005 that average CEO to the average worker was a whopping 525 times. Recently that number has started to decline as CEO’s become more scrutinized by unions and congress. Nevertheless the latest number of 344 times greater than the average worker is staggering. In 2008 the average pay of a CEO rose an additional 12.4% or $336,000 - nine times greater than the average worker.
Corporate profits have skyrocketed while real wages of the average worker. In 2004, corporate profits had risen nearly 12% since 2001 while real wages for the worker had actually declined for the same period. Let’s look at some of the root causes of the decline in union membership.
Until just recently we have seen long and steady decline in union density. There are several causes that has led to this result but among the most influential causes is the decline of the mass production industries, among the most notable the auto industry. Many manufacturing industries now rely on robots and automation instead of human beings. Global competition and corporate mergers has led to downsizing and outsourcing of labor. Most outsourcing is done in non-union settings. Our economy has moved from a manufacturing to a service economy. Organizing workers in the private sector has grown nearly impossible as decisions by the courts and the National Labor Relations Board have been unsupportive and protective of workers desiring to be represented by a union. Even in environments where workers conjure up the desire, courage, and commitment to organize, the potential by their employer to be threatened, intimidated, or fired is significantly high. This creates a “chilling effect” that sends a message to would be union activists in the work place to think twice before engaging in union activities.
If unions are to experience continued and sustained gains in membership a transformation must occur at the local level. After all this is where members actually join the union. This is where members experience the union. Their first impressions and experiences are often what shapes their attitudes, positively or negatively, towards their local. Shaping a union member’s attitude becomes important because, as we will study in future lessons, a positive attitude will usually lead to member participation and commitment. The opposite occurs when a member’s experience is unfavorable which then translates into a negative attitude towards the local union. A member of a local union with a negative attitude is unlikely to offer assistance or effort in building a strong union. The character of a union is shaped locally. It is where the character and effectiveness of a union is shaped.
The local is the place where building a strong union begins. It is where effective democracy can be practiced and applied. It is the location where effective and modern communication methods can be utilized. It is the the vicinity where the union membership can reach out to local community organizations like schools, churches, and social organizations. Its where union members can be educated about union related matters. It’s the place where leaders are recruited and developed. Finally, among many other categories of opportunity. It’s the venue to plan and participate in political action.
This slide concludes the lecture “Union Density”. Our next topic will be “Union Democracy”.
Union Density LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Union Density 2008 <ul><li>12.4% of employed wage and salary workers </li></ul><ul><li>16 million workers organized </li></ul><ul><li>428,000 rise in 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>20. 1% in 1983 </li></ul><ul><li>17.7 million workers organized </li></ul><ul><li>37% at peak in 1960 (private sector) </li></ul>LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Decline in Union Density <ul><li>47 year continuous decline </li></ul><ul><li>December 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>1 in 8 are union members private and public </li></ul><ul><li>1 in 12 are union members - private </li></ul><ul><li>1 in 3 are union members – public </li></ul>LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Union Density LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Private and Public Sectors Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
State Union Density LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Question <ul><li>What percent of the private sector was organized as of December 2008? </li></ul><ul><li>A. 87.6% </li></ul><ul><li>B. 12.4% </li></ul><ul><li>C. 36.8% </li></ul><ul><li>D. 7.6% </li></ul>LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Answer <ul><li>The answer is “C”. </li></ul><ul><li>Correct Answer: 7.6% of the private sector is organized. </li></ul><ul><li>12.4 % of all sectors are organized </li></ul><ul><li>36.8% is the density of the public sector </li></ul><ul><li>87.6% is the potential of union density remaining to be organized </li></ul>LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Union Membership -2008 LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Age Group Membership LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Union Density Graph LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Health Insurance LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Share of Pensions LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
CEO vs. Worker Wage Ratio LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Real Wages vs. Corporate Profits LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Decline: Causes <ul><li>Decline of mass production industries </li></ul><ul><li>Automation </li></ul><ul><li>Global Competition </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate Mergers </li></ul><ul><li>Anti-Labor Laws </li></ul><ul><li>Threats, intimidation, firings, of union activists </li></ul>LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Local Union Transformation <ul><li>Transformation of unions begins at the local union </li></ul><ul><li>Where members join the union </li></ul><ul><li>Where members experience the union </li></ul><ul><li>Where members become involved in the union </li></ul><ul><li>Where members shape the character of the union </li></ul>LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Local Unions Are Keystone <ul><li>Membership Participation </li></ul><ul><li>Socialization and Orientation </li></ul><ul><li>Leadership Development </li></ul><ul><li>Membership Development </li></ul><ul><li>Community Outreach </li></ul><ul><li>Political Influence </li></ul>LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker
Conclusion LS-12 Building Strong Unions - LATTC Instructor - Jim Walker