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Percentage of union workers in U.S. fell in 2022, report says

Nurses strike and hold a rally outside of Mount Sinai Hospital earlier this month in New York City. The Labor Department said on Thursday that overall union representation hit a record low. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
1 of 3 | Nurses strike and hold a rally outside of Mount Sinai Hospital earlier this month in New York City. The Labor Department said on Thursday that overall union representation hit a record low. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 19 (UPI) -- The percentage of U.S. workers who are union members tumbled by 0.2% in 2022 despite the overall number of members increasing by 273,000, according to new figures by the Labor Department released Thursday.

That percentage rate in the report dropped union representation to a record low of 10.1%. That's a fall from 20.1% in 1983, representing 17.7 million workers.

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In the department's Union Members Summary for 2022 found that the number of union members in 2022 grew to 14.3 million American workers, an increase of 1.9% from the year before.

The number of wage and salaried workers, though, increased 3.9% or by 5.3 million, outpacing the growth of employees represented by unions.

"This disproportionately large increase in the number of total wage and salary employment compared with the increase in the number of union members led to a decrease in the union membership rate. The 2022 unionization rate," the report said.

The AFL-CIO said the tug-and-pull efforts to unionize businesses like Amazon and Starbucks is a perfect example of how corporations are pushing back on efforts to get workers represented.

"In 2022, we saw working people rising up despite often illegal opposition from companies that would rather pay union-busting firms millions than give workers a seat at the table," said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, in a statement. "The momentum of the moment we are in is clear.

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"Organizing victories are happening in every industry, public and private, and every sector of our economy all across the country. The wave of organizing will continue to gather steam in 2023 and beyond despite broken labor laws that rig the system against workers."

The union membership rate of public-sector workers, which is 33.1%, continued to be more than five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers, which sits at 6.0%.

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