Jan 23, 2020

Labor union membership declines

United Auto Workers outside the GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant, October 2019. Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

Labor union membership in the U.S. continued to drop in 2019, new data released Wednesday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows.

The big picture: Amid this slight dip in union membership — which decreased 0.2% from 2018 — the United Auto Workers led the largest demonstration by any union against any U.S. business since UAW's last strike against General Motors in 2007.

What they're saying: 51% of Americans said in 2018 that decreasing union representation is "mostly bad for working people in the U.S.," according to Pew Research, while 35% said it has been "mostly good."

Where it stands: Public-sector workers' union membership has continued to be five times higher than private-sector workers, BLS reported, and men have a slightly higher membership rate than women.

  • Nonunion workers took home median weekly earnings that were 81% of union members' earnings.

Of note: Over half of the 14.6 million union members recorded in 2019 lived in just seven states — California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio and Washington.

Go deeper: Unions shrink fast in swing states

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Work stoppages from labor disputes rose to a two-decade high in 2019

United Auto Workers union members striking in October 2019. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

3.24 million work days were lost to labor strikes and lockouts in 2019, the most since 2004, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why it matters: Labor disputes can cost workers and businesses in missed wages, decreased productivity and stunted revenues.

Bernie Sanders picks up postal workers union endorsement

Sen. Bernie Sanders. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) picked up the endorsement of the American Postal Workers Union on Thursday, a group that boasts 200,000 members across the country.

Why it matters: The union promised to lend its organizing power to Sanders' campaign, with the endorsement coming only a few days before the Iowa caucus on Feb. 3. The group also backed Sanders in 2016, per AP.

Go deeperArrowJan 30, 2020

Biden: Sanders must disassociate himself from attacks on union leaders

Joe Biden during a South Carolina campaign launch party, Feb. 11, Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden told NBC's "Meet the Press" in an interview airing Sunday his 2020 rival Sen. Bernie Sanders needs to do more to address "misogynistic" online threats to leaders of the Nevada Culinary Workers Union.

Why it matters: Biden's comments come ahead of Nevada's caucuses next Saturday. The union, representing some 60,000 workers, is the most influential in the state. Its leaders announced last Thursday it would not endorse any Democratic candidate.