Spotlight: Worker freedom erodes Big Labor

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — As President Joe Biden pays a call on Wisconsin today, he’ll be greeted by declining union ranks.

The Badger State’s shrinking organiized labor presence has much to do with worker freedom achieved through the state’s right to work laws.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership in Wisconsin dropped to 7.9 percent in 2021, from 8.7 percent in 2020. Organized labor rates spiked during the outbreak of COVID-19 because of a “disproportionately large decline in the total number of nonunion workers” — thanks to so many people locked out of work by government stay-at-home orders.

Wisconsin’s union membership rate is a long way from its peak of nearly 21 percent in 1989.

Nationally, 10.3 percent of the workforce signed up for a union in 2021. Declines have been steepest in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Spotlight  | Sept. 5, 2022

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