Sam Gindin pointed me to a history of private sector union density—the percent of workers belonging to unions—going back to 1900. (They’re credit to Troy and Sheflin’ Union Sourcebook, a standard source.) No doubt these numbers are more approximate than recent ones, but here’s a striking fact: 2018’s level, 6.4%, is a hair below 1900’s level, 6.5%. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just say they’re the same. Here’s an update of yesterday’s graph. Back where the 20th century started. That’s 118 years of progress for you.
Unions had a pretty good year in 2017: they didn’t lose any ground. According to the latest edition of the Bureau of Labor Statistics annual survey, released this morning, 10.7% of employed wage and salary workers were members of unions, unchanged from last year. There was a mild uptick in the share of private-sector workers represented by unions (aka union density), from 6.4% to 6.5%. Density was unchanged at 34.4% for public sector workers—mildly surprising, given the war on labor being conducted by Republican governors and legislatures across the country. As the… Read More
This was not written for this blog, but I’ve been asked to circulate it widely. It’s a response by Jerry Brown—not the governor but the long-time leader of SEIU 1199 New England—to reviews by Steve Early and Joe Burns of Jane McAlevey’s excellent book Raising Expectations (And Raising Hell), on how to revive the U.S. labor movement. Both reviews are extremely tendentious and unfair, and do not respond to Jane’s arguments at all. I am also addressing this re-post in part to all the people who’ve embraced the Early/Burns line without having read the book. My… Read More