The U.S. Department of Labor has released their annual statistics on labor union membership. Nationwide, union membership is down slightly by .2 percent. In total, about 11 percent of the workforce belongs to a union. Compared to 2008, when I reported on these statistics, the number is down by a full percentage point.
The numbers for Connecticut tell a slightly different story. Back in 2006, 246,000 people belonged to a union or 15.6 of the workforce. But the percentage went up during the recession as unemployment rates skyrocketed. By 2010, the percentage of union represented employees was up to 17.4 percent, even though the raw numbers of people represented by unions decreased markedly.
Where do things stand now? Unions seem to be making a comeback in the state last year. Union representation for 2013 stood at just 220,000 people, or 14.3 percent of the workforce. Last year, in 2014, however, that number skyrocketed to 245,000, or 15.7 percent of the workforce.
We can put the statistics in another way: In 2014, union representation in Connecticut last year increased by over 10 percent. That’s a big gain by any measure. But it still just gets the unions back to where they stood in 2006.
Before we draw too many conclusions, however, I’m still having a hard time having faith in the numbers. Connecticut released its own private sector employment numbers (without regard to union membership.)
For 2014, approximately 25,700 jobs were created in the private sector (almost the same number projected for union growth by the USDOL.) Are we to assume that only union jobs were created? Or that unions took over previously non-represented individuals in droves? If not, how do we reconcile the big increase from the USDOL?
So, take the statistics with a few grains of salt.
In any event, the statistics continue to show that unions still have a big role to play in the state. Having experienced labor counsel at your side still seems like a good bet for the foreseeable future.