Center for American Progress Action

STATEMENT: Karla Walter on Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Release of Union Membership Rates
Press Statement

STATEMENT: Karla Walter on Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Release of Union Membership Rates

Washington, D.C. — The Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, released data today showing that the national union membership rate held steady at 11.3 percent in 2013. The private-sector unionization rate rose slightly from 6.6 percent in 2012 from 6.7 percent in 2013. And while public-sector unionization rates have held steady for decades, they have fallen from 37 percent in 2011 to 35.3 percent in 2013 due in part to state-level efforts to weaken collective bargaining laws.

Karla Walter, Associate Director of the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, released the following statement:

It is good news that union membership rates did not fall in 2013. However, this does not reverse the long and steady decline in union membership—which should be worrisome to all Americans since unions are vital for a strong middle class. Over the past 40 years, we have seen union membership rates fall hand in hand with the share of the nation’s income going to the middle class.

Many factors contribute to declining union membership rates. But one factor that is increasingly important to the fate of unions is government obstruction of the right of workers to bargain together in unions. From conservative efforts to stop the National Labor Relations Board—the government agency with jurisdiction to protect both union and nonunion workers’ workplace rights—from functioning to state-level attacks to repeal bargaining rights for government workers, conservative politicians are increasingly focused on dismantling laws and institutions that are designed to protect workers’ right to join together in unions.

For more information or to speak to an expert on this topic, contact Katie Peters at [email protected] or 202.741.6285.