Feb 2, 2023 - News

Ohio union membership on the rise

Change in the share of wage and salary workers represented by unions, 2021 to 2022
Data: BLS; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

Statewide union membership is slowly growing, per new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

State of play: The percentage of statewide workers represented by a union rose from 13% in 2021 to 14% last year.

  • That might seem like a modest increase, but it amounts to 52,000 more Ohioans belonging to organizations designed to advance and protect their rights at work.

Why it matters: The increase is further evidence of a growing labor movement involving local workers at Ohio institutions and global companies alike.

Zoom in: Workplace organizing has increased dramatically in Cleveland since the pandemic began, headlined by five successful campaigns at area Starbucks stores.

What they're saying: "It's not just new union organizing," North Shore AFL-CIO executive secretary Dan O'Malley recently told Signal Cleveland. "You're seeing a lot of real, more strict demands being made at the bargaining table as well."

The big picture: This movement bucks a decades-long state and national trend of declining labor union representation, Axios' Nathan Bomey writes.

  • Ohio's membership still outpaces the national percentage (10%) of workers belonging to a union, the lowest figure since the government began tracking membership in the early 1980s.

Context: The U.S. actually added hundreds of thousands of new unionized jobs last year, but the percentage of union members in the overall workforce declined because of the greater number of non-union jobs created.

The intrigue: Despite record-low membership nationally, labor unions are experiencing a surge in popularity.

  • 71% of Americans approved of them in 2022, per a Gallup poll ā€” the highest since 1965.

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