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Union membership continues to fall

Empower Wisconsin | Feb. 7,  2020

By Lexi Dittrich, MacIver News Service

MADISON — Union membership continues to decline in Wisconsin and nationwide, according to the  Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

The recently released annual report on union membership, shows in 2019 Wisconsin was home to 2,698,000 workers,  218,000 of them union members. The year before, there were 219,000 union members.

While union membership dropped by 1,000, the number of workers declined as well, keeping the percentage of Wisconsin union members at 8.1 percent.

In 2009, union membership in Wisconsin was just over 15 percent of the workforce, equal to 385,000 union members. By 2015, that rate had dropped to 8.3 percent and has since stagnated between 8.3 and 8.1 percent of the workforce. In the last decade since 2009, a net 167,000 workers have chosen to leave their Wisconsin labor unions. That’s a decline of 43 percent.

The dramatic decrease in Wisconsin’s union membership rate is often attributed to collective bargaining reform passed in the forms of 2011 Act 10 for public employees and 2015’s Right to Work law.

Unions nationwide also lost membership in 2019, falling to 10.3 percent of the U.S. workforce, compared to 10.5 percent in the previous year. This decrease amounts to 170,000 less union members in the U.S. between 2018 and 2019.

In the past decade, unions nationwide have lost 5 percent of their membership, decreasing from 15.3 million union members 2009 to today’s 14.6 million. 

Read more at the MacIver Institute. 

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