Union membership grew by 139,000 in 2023, thanks to worker wins

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Washington – Union membership grew by 139,000 in 2023, according to a report on union density released Jan. 23 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Union membership in the private sector increased by 191,000 members, with a majority of new members under the age of 45.

More than 900,000 union members won double-digit wage increases through new contracts last year.

“Workers are fed up with low wages, few benefits, and a lack of dignity and respect on the job, which is precisely why more are interested in joining a union now than ever before,” said Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO.

SURGING MOMENTUM
“Although union density remained flat in 2023, that doesn’t reflect the surging momentum that working people have carried into this year,” Shuler said. “Waves of workers across industries and geography are joining unions despite vicious union-busting campaigns by large corporations.”

Polling data shows that 71 percent of Americans support unions, the highest level in nearly 60 years, with 88 percent of young people showing support for unions. And as the BLS numbers show, the union difference in wages remains strong, driving increased interest among workers to have a voice on the job.

“Every worker who wants to join a union should be able to without facing intimidation and harassment from their employer,” Shuler said. “Corporations spend more than $400 million per year on union-busting consultants to stop worker organizing, and corporate leaders like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos—themselves hoarding billions of dollars—have made it their mission in life to stop their own employees from having a voice at the workplace.

“The Labor Movement is more focused and committed than ever on ensuring that every worker who wants a union has a fair shot at joining one,” she said. “Organizing is happening at a rate not seen in generations, and new federal investments by the Biden administration in emerging sectors of the economy creates more opportunity for workers to attain good union jobs.”

The AFL-CIO’s Center for Transformational Organizing has become a hub for multi-union organizing strategy and investment in the clean energy and technology sectors as new jobs emerge over the next several years catalyzed by these federal funds.

“Working people are on the rise, and the progress we’re seeing now is just the beginning,” Shuler said.

(See ANALYSIS: Unions added 139,000 members in 2023, but union density remains stubbornly low)


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