Colorado's labor union membership grows for third straight year
The share of Colorado workers in labor unions rose for the third straight year in 2023, even as the share of unionized employees across the U.S. hit a new low, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Why it matters: Advocates say unions are a needed proponent of worker rights and compensation, while critics say unions throttle progress in the workplace, Axios' Nathan Bomey reports.
State of play: A flurry of union action is sweeping through the state.
- Some of the newest unions to form include workers at Opera Colorado and Urban Peak, the first homeless shelter to do so in the state.
- Denver Art Museum workers will vote on a union in March.
By the numbers: 6.9% of Colorado's workforce was part of a union last year, up from 6.7% in 2022 and 6.5% in 2021.
- That translates to 189,000 unionized local employees in 2023, or 11,000 more than the previous year.
Yes, but: Colorado's share of union members remains below the national average of 10%.
- In the last two-plus decades, the state has only outpaced the nation once — when it hit a high in 2018 of 11% of the workforce unionized compared to 10.5% nationally.
The intrigue: Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill last year, despite concerns about its impact on employers, that prohibits public employers from retaliating against employees for participating in public sector unions or political activities outside of work.
- State lawmakers also passed a bill in 2022, which went into effect last July, that expands bargaining power for public employees.
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