[Marxism] American unions today

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Wed Feb 25 20:59:03 MST 2004

In the USA, agriculture and related industries have the lowest unionization
rate - 1.6 percent. Unionisation as such is lowest in North Carolina and
South Carolina.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 4 in 10 US government
workers are union members, compared with less than 1 in 10 workers in
private-sector industries.    Of the 1.7 million wage and salary workers
represented by a union on their main job, while not being union members
themselves, about half were employed in government. Ten percent of unionised
workers are parttime workers.

In 2003, 12.9 percent of wage and salary workers were union members, down
from 13.3 percent in 2002. Union membership rates were higher for men (14.3
percent) than for women (11.4 percent). Blacks were more likely to be union
members (16.5 percent) than were whites (12.5 percent), Asians (11.4
percent), or Hispanics (10.7 percent). Union membership rates were highest
among workers 45 to 54 years old.  Full-time workers were more than twice as
likely as part-time workers to be union members.

Full-time wage and salary workers who are union members have median usual
weekly earnings of $760, compared with a median of $599 for wage and salary
workers who are not represented by unions.

In 2003, workers in the public sector had a union membership rate more than
four times that of private-sector employees, 37.2 percent compared with 8.2
percent.  The unionization rate for government workers has held
steady since 1983.  The rate for private industry workers has fallen by
about half over the same time period.

Within government, local government workers had the highest union membership
rate, 42.6 percent.  This group
includes the heavily unionized occupations of teachers, police officers, and
fire fighters.  Nearly two-fifths of workers in education, training, and
library occupations and in protective service occupations were union members
in 2003.  Protective service occupations include fire fighters and police

Among major private industries, transportation and utilities had the highest
union membership rate, at 26.2 percent.  Construction (16.0 percent),
information industries (13.6 percent), and manufacturing (13.5 percent) also
had higher-than-average rates.

Among occupational groups, education, training, and library occupations
(37.7 percent) and protective service workers (36.1 percent) had the highest
unionization rates in 2003.  Natural resources, construction, and
maintenance workers and production, transportation, and material moving
occupations also had higher-than-average union membership rates at 19.2
percent and 18.7 per-cent, respectively.  Among the major occupational
groups, sales and office occupations had the lowest unionization rate--8.2

The number of union members is highest in California (2.4 million), New York
(1.9 million), and Illinois (1.0 million).  The states with the highest
union membership rates are .New York (24.6 percent), Hawaii (23.8 percent),
Alaska (22.3 percent), and Michigan (21.9 percent).

 Texas had only about one-fourth as many union members as New York, despite
having 1.2 million more wage and salary employees.

Faced with the imperative of cutting government spending, a Democratic
government could run into some tough opposition. On the other hand,
unionised government employees could influence Democratic expenditure
reducing ideas.

Four-fifths of Californian Jews, the majority of whom are not unionised,
vote for Democratic Party. That includes a lot of Hollywood.


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