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Share of American workers in unions hit new record low in 2023

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Adam Allington

Despite a year marked by a number of high-profile strikes, the union membership rate dropped to a new low in 2023. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that 10%, or 14.14 million workers, were union members in 2023, down slightly from 10.1% in 2022.

Kate Bronfenbrenner

Director of Labor Education Research

Kate Bronfenbrenner, senior lecturer and director of labor education research at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, says there are several big takeaways from the data.

Bronfenbrenner says:

“Union organizing gains continue to be offset by job growth in nonunion jobs and job loss in heavily unionized sectors. We are also not yet seeing the 2022-23 organizing surge in the BLS data, because it only reports union members and those covered by collective bargaining agreements.

“The BLS data does not include the majority of newly organizing workers who still do not have first contracts two years after the election due to employers challenging NLRB certifications and stalling negotiations.

“The decline in public-sector union density suggests that in a post ‘Janus v. AFSCME’ world, public-sector unions are finding it more challenging to organize and to maintain membership. Black workers, particularly Black women, continue to have the highest unionization rates.”

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