We Make Connecticut Happen

Union Membership Declines Faster In CT Than In U.S.

by Mara Lee
Hartford Courant
Jan. 23, 2012

The decline of unions, a generations-long trend in America, continued in 2012, as just 11.3 percent of all workers are union members. Their ranks fell by 0.5 percent from the previous year.

The data was released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Wednesday.

In Connecticut, 14 percent are union members — falling from 16.8 percent in 2011. If you include people represented by a union, but who don't pay dues, the proportion of unionized Connecticut workers is 15.1 percent.

That's a drop from 272,000 jobs in 2011 to 232,000 in 2012.

"The only people who should enjoy these numbers are the 1 percent," said Larry Dorman, spokesman for AFSCME Council 4, the largest union that represents state workers. "I think we're living in a time of sustained attacks against unions, and I think that no one should celebrate the fact that middle class living standards are declining."

Government workers — teachers, police officers, prison guards, office workers and more — were far more likely to be union members than private-sector workers. Nationwide, 35.9 percent of government workers were in a union, while just 6.6 percent of private-sector workers were.

Of all people with full-time jobs, 12.5 percent are in unions.

For full-time workers in a union, the median wage was $943 a week, or about $49,000 a year. The median marks the midpoint of a distribution, where half make more and half make less.

For full-time workers who aren't in a union, the median wage was $752 a week, or about $38,600.

The difference isn't just influenced by bargaining power — unions are more common in bigger companies, which pay more.

"There's a direct correlation between the drop in middle-class living standards and the decline of unionization," Dorman said. "That decline in unionization really has negative and troubling implications for the economy at large."

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