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Report: US Unions Continue Steady Decline

A small group of picketers from Bakery and Confectioners Workers Union Local 9 walk past a closed Hostess plant, Seattle, Nov. 16, 2012.
A small group of picketers from Bakery and Confectioners Workers Union Local 9 walk past a closed Hostess plant, Seattle, Nov. 16, 2012.
VOA News
Union membership in the United States continued its long-term decline last year, as only 11.3 percent of workers were represented by unions, according to newly released federal data.
 
Wednesday's report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the 11.3 percent figure is a half-percentage-point decline from the prior year, which works out to a loss of 400,000 members, leaving a total of 14.4 million union workers in the U.S. economy.
 
In the 1950s, about one-third of U.S. workers were unionized; by the 1980s, that amount had declined to roughly one-fifth of U.S. workers. Currently, a little more than one-tenth of U.S. workers are represented by unions, with membership being far higher among government workers.
 
Republicans in Wisconsin and other states have led efforts to curb the collective bargaining rights at the core of union power.
 
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says political and ideological assaults, weak laws, and a struggling economy have "taken a toll" on union membership. The head of the largest union organization in the U.S. says the decline is a threat to economic security and middle-class jobs.

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