Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Labor's Steady Decline in Colorado

Andrew Oh-Willeke has a post up on the discouraging state of unionization in Colorado. Money quote,

As of 2009, in Colorado, 4.5% of the private sector work force (83,789 workers) and 20.9% of the public sector work force (69,435 workers) was made up of union members. Another 12,979 private sector workers and 14,448 public sector workers were in union covered work places but were not union members themselves.

Union membership is down 8,800 workers (9.5% in absolute numbers) in the private sector, and 13,129 workers (15.9% in absolute numbers) in the public sector from 2006 to 2009 in Colorado. This is a drop of 0.5 perecentage points in the private sector and 1.9 percentage points in the public sector.

Union contract covered workers are down 6,769 workers in the private sector, and 8,777 workers in the public sector from 2006 to 2009 in Colorado. The percentage of union covered workers who are actually in the union is down in both the public and private sectors as well. The percentage drop in union contract covered workers is not as great as the drops in union membership, but the drops are still significant.

If you had asked me three years ago what I would have expected, I would have told you that I expected private sector unionization rates to continue to fall, but that public sector unionization would increase. I would have been wrong. Absolute losses in public sector union membership are particularly discouraging. I suspect that some of these losses are from an overall decline in United States Postal Service employment, one of the biggest little reported stories of sustained layoffs in the United States. But, the bad news is simply too big to have one cause.

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