Union Membership Declines in 2016


In a release dated January 26, 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that union membership in the private sector workforce fell from 6.7% to 6.4% in 2016, and overall union membership dropped from 11.1% to 10.7%.

According to the report, in 1983, the first year for which comparable union data is available, the overall union membership rate was 20.1%. The percentage of unionized workers has steadily decreased since that time. This decline can be attributed, in part, to the increase in the number of right-to-work states, which give employees the freedom to choose to join or not join a labor union.

On February 6, 2017, Governor Eric Greitens signed legislation making Missouri our country’s 28th right-to-work state.

A week earlier, on January 31, 2017, Representatives Joe Wilson of South Carolina and Steve King of Iowa introduced into Congress a bill that would amend the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act to prohibit union security clauses. This national right-to-work legislation would give all employees across the United States the right to choose to join or not join a union.