Jan 26, 2023 - News

Washington union membership fell in 2022

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

Union representation dropped in Washington state in 2022 — but the Evergreen state still has one of the highest rates of represented workers in the country, per federal data.

The big picture: Union support hit near-record levels last year, with high-profile organizing at Amazon and Starbucks grabbing headlines. Yet at the same time, union membership nationwide hit an all-time low last year, Axios' Emily Peck and Nathan Bomey write.

Zoom in: The share of Washington workers represented by a union declined by about 1 percentage point from 2021 to 2022, according to data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • That's a steeper drop than the 0.2% decline seen nationwide.

Yes, but: Washington's percentage of workers with union representation — 19.1% — still ranks as the nation's third highest, behind only New York and Hawaii, per the BLS data.

What they're saying: David Groves, spokesperson for the Washington State Labor Council, told Axios that the BLS statistics can fluctuate quite a bit year to year, in part because the agency relies on self-reported surveys and a small sample size to create its estimates.

  • Even so, the data still showed that union membership in Washington state was higher in 2022 than it was in 2020, by about 58,000 members, he noted.
  • "Given the increased organizing activity our affiliated unions are reporting to us, and the NLRB report of a significant jump in petitions for union elections in 2022, we are confident that Washington will continue to grow its union membership," Groves wrote in an email.

What we're watching: Whether the recent unionization push does, in fact, inch these numbers upward in 2023.

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