Union membership rises for second straight year
By SAM HANANEL
January 28, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) — Amid widening unemployment, home foreclosures and credit woes, union membership jumped to 12.4 percent of the work force last year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the ranks of organized labor rose by 428,000 workers — the biggest annual gain since the government began compiling such data in 1983. It's also the second year in a row that unions have added to their ranks. Membership rose by 311,000 members in 2007, to account for 12.1 percent of workers.
Overall, union membership remains well below the peak of 35 percent during labor's heyday of the 1950s. Membership was about 20 percent in 1983, the first year the bureau began compiling the numbers.
Unions have moved aggressively to bolster organizing efforts in recent years, a move that apparently offset the loss of 2.6 million jobs from payrolls in 2008.