CFL News
January 27, 2012

Union membership sees slight increase in face of attacks

Union membership in Illinois and across the country ticked up slightly despite a rash of attacks on working people and collective bargaining rights

Overall union membership increased by 49,000 from 2010 to 2011, including 15,000 new 16- to 24-year-old members, according to new U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Illinois gained 32,000 new union members over the course of the year.

The state's total number of union members increased to 876,000, or 16.2 percent of the workforce.

Nationally, an increase of 110,000 in the private sector was partially offset by a decline of 61,000 in the public sector, making the rate of union membership essentially unchanged at 11.8 percent, with some 14.8 million U.S. workers union members.  Public sector employees faced dramatic layoffs across the country as state and local governments trimmed their workforce to help cope with budget deficits.

Public-sector density increased from 36.2 percent to 37 percent through November 2011. Private-sector union membership remains at 6.9 percent. The largest increases in union membership were in construction, health care services, retail trade, primary metals and fabricated metal products, hospitals, transportation and warehousing.

Despite an unprecedented volley of partisan political attacks on workers’ rights and the continuing insecurity of our economic crisis, union membership increased slightly last year," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. "Working men and women want to come together and to improve their lives."