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Department of Labor report shows union growth in New York

Stephon Johnson | 1/25/2018, 10 a.m.
report from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that union membership grew in New York and ...
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A report from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that union membership grew in New York and that New York remains one of the biggest pro-union states in the country.

The average percentage of workers with union membership, per state, was 10.7 percent. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below the average. California and New York have the largest number of union members (2.5 million and 2 million, respectively) and half of the 14.8 million union members in the United States live in seven states (California, New York, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio).

New York State, in particular, saw an increase in union members with 75,000 workers joining its ranks in 2017. Union members now make up 23.8 percent of the state’s workforce, making New York, percentage wise, the most unionized state in the U.S.

Several New York-based union leaders spoke of the pride they felt knowing the state increased its union membership.

“This report clearly shows that, despite attempts by deep-pocketed forces to bust unions, New York State remains a strong union state,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “It also shows that workers who have the power of collective bargaining earn higher wages than those who don’t. While membership among public-sector workers held steady at 34.4 percent, it’s imperative that we continue to engage members and step up organizing efforts.”

“This report actually shows much of what the RWDSU has been experiencing over the past few years—a resurgence of strong organizing despite all efforts to decimate it,” added Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report, all states in East South Central and West South Central divisions had union membership rates below the national average. All states in the New England, Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions had rates above it. The report also showed that Black workers were more likely to be union members (12.6 percent) than white (10.6 percent), Hispanic (9.3 percent) or Asian (8.9 percent) workers, and the union membership rate of public-sector workers is five times higher than the rate among private-sector workers (34.4 percent to 6.5 percent, respectively).

New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento in a statement said the addition of 75,000 union members will provide middle-class jobs and an opportunity for a better life to New Yorkers.

“The Labor Movement provides the best way for working people to get ahead, particularly at a time when the rights of working men and women are under attack by the fringe right in Washington,” said Cilento in a statement. “We remain committed to fighting for all working people because when the Labor Movement is thriving we not only raise the wages, benefits and conditions of employment of union members, we raise the standard of living and quality of life of all working people.”