In 2013 the total number of workers in unions rose by 162,000 compared with 2012, led by an increase of 281,000 workers in private-sector unions. There were strong gains in construction and manufacturing, against a background of strike actions by low-wage workers in the private sector. But destructive, politically motivated layoffs of public-sector workers continued to hurt overall public-sector union membership, leaving the total percentage of the workforce that is unionized virtually unchanged.

“Wall Street’s Great Recession cost millions of America’s workers their jobs and pushed already depressed wages down even further. But in 2013, America’s workers pushed back,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said of the figures released Friday by the Department of Labor. “At the same time, these numbers show that as unorganized workers have taken up the fight for their right to a voice on the job, union employers are hiring—creating good jobs our economy desperately needs.”

Despite the overall gains of 2013, workers in the public sector continued to bear the brunt of the continuing economic crisis, weak labor laws and political assaults on their rights on the job. In Wisconsin, political attacks on public-sector workers’ right to collectively bargain resulted in bargaining coverage falling. Broadly, federal, state and local governments continued to lay off needed public workers, leading to an overall loss of 118,000 union members.

“Make no mistake, the job of rebuilding workers’ bargaining power and raising wages for the 99% has a long way to go,” said Trumka. “Collective action among working people remains the strongest, best force for economic justice in America. We’re building a stronger, more innovative movement to give voice to the values that built this country. From Walmart workers to fast food workers to homecare workers, the rising up of workers’ voices against inequality – both inside and outside of traditional structures – is the story of 2013.”

Key trends include:

  • The total number of private-sector union members rose by 281,000, while the total number of public-sector union members fell by about 118,000. There are now more private-sector union members than public-sector members.
  • Industries with the biggest growth include construction (up 95,000), hospitals and Transportation Equipment Manufacturing
  • Sectors hit hardest include social assistance and administration and support services.
  • Union membership rates did not change in any meaningful way by gender: 10.5 percent of women and 11.9 percent of men were in unions.
  • States with the largest union membership rate growth include: Alabama (1.5 percentage points), Nebraska (1.3 points), Tennessee (1.3 points), Kentucky, (1.2 points), New York (1.2 points), Illinois (1.2 points) and Wisconsin (1.1 points).
  • States with the largest union membership rate declines include: Louisiana (-1.9 percentage points), Oregon (-1.8 points), Utah (-1.3 points), Wyoming (-1.0 points) New Hampshire (-0.9 points), Montana (-0.9 points) and Texas (-0.9 points).

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall told West Virginia union leaders on Tuesday that people who believe cheaper, non-union labor is good for American business are “short-sighted.”
“Union labor also helps increase corporate America’s bottom line with your safety standards and the quality of your work,” Rahall said at the event hosted by the State Building Trades Council.
Read the complete story at the Charleston Gazette.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall told West Virginia union leaders on Tuesday that people who believe cheaper, non-union labor is good for American business are “short-sighted.”

“Union labor also helps increase corporate America’s bottom line with your safety standards and the quality of your work,” Rahall said at the event hosted by the State Building Trades Council.

Read the complete story at the Charleston Gazette.

Union Yes; Union check yesAfter Volkswagen issued a letter in September saying the company would not oppose an attempt by the United Auto Workers (UAW) to unionize its 1,600-worker Chattanooga, Tenn., facility, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) was flabbergasted.

“For management to invite the UAW in is almost beyond belief,” Corker, who campaigned heavily for the plant’s construction during his tenure as mayor of Chattanooga, told the Associated Press. “They will become the object of many business school studies – and I’m a little worried could become a laughingstock in many ways – if they inflict this wound.”

Read the complete story at In Thee Times.

05/02/13 UPDATE: Ohio right-to-work bills were considered “dead-on-arrival” as Senate Republic President Keith Faber rejected the bills last night in an after-hours press conference.
“We have an ambitious agenda focused on job creation and economic recovery, and Right to Work legislation is not on that list. After discussions with other leaders and my caucus, I don’t believe there is current support for this issue in the General Assembly,” Faber said. “The only purpose this discussion serves right now is to generate a bunch of breathless fundraising appeals from the Ohio Democratic Party.”
Original Story:
Ohio has joined Pa. and Mo. in the fight against right-to-work bills. Today, two Republican Ohio Representatives Kristina Roegner and Ron Maag submitted bills seeking to take away rights from unions and their members in Ohio.
Roegner’s bill goes after private-sector unions such as UTU-SMART while Maag’s bill focuses on unions of the public sector.
Ohioans are clearly against this type of legislation with 60 percent of Ohio voters having voted down similar legislation in Senate Bill 5 (SB 5) that was introduced in 2011. SB 5 almost cost Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich his job when he sought to make SB 5 law without allowing Ohioans to vote on it. Petitions and outcries were heard loud and clear in Ohio’s government and SB 5 went to the people to be voted on in November 2011 and was voted down.
Ohioans are still working on getting an amendment passed that would allow the people of Ohio to vote to remove a governor from office as a result of the SB 5 fiasco.
Kasich has refused to support any right-to-work bill since SB 5 failed and has instead remained focused on other legislation. Kasich has yet to weigh in on the new legislation that was introduced today.
Pennsylvania and Missouri are also facing similar bills in their respective Houses. Recently, the state of Maine rejected right-to-work bills in both the state House and Senate, effectively killing those bills.

SMART Transportation Division President Mike Futhey and Assistant President John Previsich this week joined the leaders of other AFL-CIO affiliate unions at the organization’s annual winter meeting.

They also meet separately with members of the organization’s Transportation Trades Department to roll out a 2013 transportation investment and jobs agenda, stake out an aggressive stance against irresponsible liberalization of aviation trade and to condemn damaging cuts to transportation programs and jobs that are threatened by sequestration.

“It is the height of irresponsibility for extremists in Congress to use the sequestration battle to tank our economy and use public and private sector working men and women as pawns in their partisan games,” said Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO following the annual winter meeting of its 33-member Executive Committee. “It is time for Congress to end this senseless sequestration stalemate and finally start focusing on an agenda to modernize our failing transportation system and create middle-class jobs.”

The TTD Executive Committee was joined by new House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) who said, “I appreciate today’s opportunity to meet with the Transportation Trades Department’s Executive Committee, and look forward to working with them and all parties interested in a stronger transportation network for our nation. By listening to a diverse set of opinions and working together to build consensus, we can improve America’s infrastructure, make us more competitive, and strengthen our economy.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), ranking minority member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources Subcommittee, also joined the meeting and said, “Investments in infrastructure put skilled laborers to work now and lay the foundation for a growing economy in the future. I am proud to partner with TTD in advocating for a 21st Century American transportation network and fighting back against destructive budget cuts like sequestration that will undermine vital programs. I am also proud of my work with TTD to extend [Family and Medical Leave Act] protections to airline flight crews, protect fair wages for transportation workers, and ensure our roads, rails, transit operations, ports and aviation system are safe and well funded for the future.” 

The Executive Committee also heard from U.S. Department of Transportation Undersecretary for Policy Polly Trottenberg, who said, “Transportation workers are our partners in safety, who build, operate and maintain the roads, rails and runways that every American depends on. The Obama Administration will continue investing in good transportation projects that keep our economy and the traveling public moving forward.”

The Executive Committee adopted several policy statements during the meeting that offer detailed, substantive policy prescriptions on behalf of the workers who operate, maintain and build the world’s largest transportation network.

On the eve of possible federal spending cuts due to sequestration, the Executive Committee condemned threatened draconian cuts to vital transportation programs that form the backbone of our system of commerce. The “ravages of sequestration,” they said, must be avoided and federal workers “should not be made scapegoats” in this dangerous political game.
To end the stalemate on long-term investments in public transit and highways, transportation unions offer a bipartisan solution to the “broken and outdated funding system,” noting that the purchasing power of these funds has fallen 33 percent in two decades.

TTD affiliates support an increase in the gas tax indexed to inflation, as well as possibly replacing the current excise tax with a sales tax.

On the globalization of aviation, TTD opposes the European Union’s push to hollow out U.S. airline ownership and control laws, and impose its heavy-handed agenda in talks with the U.S. and in the upcoming meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

As for a long-term plan for Amtrak, TTD laments, “Too many politicians fail to understand the enormous economic benefits of modernizing passenger and freight rail.” Transportation unions will push for a long-term funding plan for Amtrak and oppose “risky” privatization schemes.

Transportation union leaders also vow to preserve a strong maritime industry. TTD unions sharply criticize congressional action to weaken cargo preference laws that ensure most federal government-generated cargo travels on U.S.-flagged ships crewed by U.S. maritime workers.

TTD affiliates will also join the battle to stop the use of “our own transportation system” as a “haven for predatory criminals” that engage in human trafficking.

The affiliates of TTD also pledge their support for the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) campaign against the sinister efforts of Patriot Coal, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal to exploit our bankruptcy code at the expense of “hard-working mine workers, retirees, and their families.”