On January 27 of this year the annual labor report was released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On this very same day the USA Today along with several other media vultures jumped on this information as if they knew what was already going to be on it. The article titled “Union membership up slightly, outlook in doubt” written by Sam Hananel, summarized the numbers in detail and left no doubt that the current union membership trend will continue in its downward slide. The fact is union membership has been in decline since 1980, and back then the percentage of covered salaried or wage workers was only about 20%. Today the percentage of unionized workers stands at 11.8% down 0.1% from the previous year. The funny thing about these numbers is the political spin everyone has put on them, to include Mr. Hananel; which makes me wonder if I’ve missed some fine print.
Upon further review of the article at hand I still remain convince that a negative union membership trend will continue along with the current government practice of downplaying the numbers. Even though the author tried to put a positive on the numbers that fortunate don’t lie. The current percentages of unionized workers mirrors those on record from the time of the “Great Depression.” The current recession, that yes, we’re still in, doesn’t bode well for any significant positive upswing in union membership. The government will continue to introduce and press on rhetoric that will equate the union membership decline to republican legislative action as this reporter took the liberty of, in mentioning Wisconsin, while dismissing the actions of a democratic legislature in California that succeeded in reducing union benefits.
The numbers provided also shed more light on government efforts, which have been dismal at best at all levels. Now labor organizers are focusing some of their efforts on government workers; in an attempt to lure them in as members, but the reality of this trend is that those numbers are severely limited at a time when government workers have not received a raise in two years and are still waiting to see if they’ll receive one come January 1st while a world-wide hiring freeze was also implemented in January of this year and thus lifted with limitations on certain agencies in July.
I don’t believe union membership will ever attain a level in membership numbers that will come close in comparison to the apex reached in the 1930’s when a 1/3 of the salaried workforce was represented. Government Legislation over the years has provided adequate protection for today’s workforce. As the swell in interest on Human Resources activities has created a better management tool for businesses to not only protect themselves but their employees also. I still believe more can be done to protect all workers regardless of union or non-union affiliation.