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Trends in Labor Relations: Membership & Industry

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  • 0:06 Unions & Labor Relations
  • 0:46 Private Sector v.…
  • 1:12 Demographics
  • 2:15 Nonunion v. Union Earnings
  • 2:33 By Industry
  • 3:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
Unions represent employees in their relationships with their employers. In this lesson, we'll take a look at current trends in union membership from across economic sectors, industries and demographics. A short quiz follows.

Unions and Labor Relations

A union is an organization of employees who work together as a group to secure better wages, benefits and working conditions for their members. According to a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11.3% of workers belonged to a union in 2013, which is about 14.5 million people. The earliest comparable information on union membership is from 1983, where about 20.1% of workers belonged to unions, which amounted to 17.7 million workers. In fact, the level of union membership hasn't been this low since the 1930s.

Private Sector v. Public Sector

Unions have a much stronger presence in the public sector than in the private sector. In 2013, workers in the public sector had a membership rate of 35.3% - that's more than one in three. This rate is five times higher than the membership rate of private sector workers, which is a mere 6.7%. In other words, less than seven private sector employees out of a hundred are members of a union.

Demographics

Demographically, men are slightly more likely to be union members than women. Black employees are more likely to be members of unions than white, Asian or Hispanic employees at 13.6%. The membership rate for white workers is 11%, while Asian and Hispanic workers are at 9.4%.

There is also a correlation between age and union membership. The highest membership rates were found to be workers between the ages of 45 and 64. About 14.3% of employees in this age group are members of unions. On the other hand, only 9.8% of employees aged 25-34 are members of unions.

Whether an employee is full-time or part-time is also an indication of union membership. About 12.5% of full-time employees are members of unions, but only 6.0% of part-time workers are. You're more than twice as likely to be a member of a union if you are a full-time worker than if you only work part-time.

Nonunion v. Union Earnings

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time workers who were members of a union had median weekly earnings of $950. Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings of only $750. That's quite a significant difference - over 20%.

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