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Here’s Proof ‘It Pays To Join Together In Unions:’ As Union Membership ‘Stays Strong’ In The State Of Washington, New Report Finds Union Members ‘Make 23% More Money & Have Better Benefits’

New Bureau Of Labor Statistics Study Shows Hawaii & New York State ‘As The Only’ Two States With Union Membership Rates Over 20%

Published Sunday, January 26, 2020
by David Groves/The Stand
Here’s Proof ‘It Pays To Join Together In Unions:’ As Union Membership ‘Stays Strong’ In The State Of Washington, New Report Finds Union Members ‘Make 23% More Money & Have Better Benefits’

(SEATTLE, WASHINGTON) - A recent national study ranked Washington No. 1 in its 2019 edition of its States With the Strongest Unions.

The latest Federal Data on Union Membership shows why our state remains “Union Strong!”

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released its 2019 Union Membership Report and although the number of Union Members in Washington dropped slightly from 649,000 in 2018 to 638,000 last year, the Evergreen State maintains its position as the third most Unionized State in the Nation.

At 18.8% of the workforce, Washington’s Unionization Rate is unchanged from two years ago, but as the state economy and overall employment have grown, Union Membership has also increased since 2017 from 584,000 to 638,000.

“Its ‘great news for all Washington workers and our state economy that we remain Union Strong,’” Washington State AFL-CIO Labor Council President Larry Brown said. “Union Members ‘earn more money, they boost our state and local economies, and they fight for improved working standards for everyone.’  ‘That’s the power of joining together to negotiate a fair return on your work.’”

America’s Union Members earn higher wages, according to the new BLS report.

The median weekly earnings for Union Members was $1,095 in 2019, compared to $892 for Non-Union.

That 23% Union Difference means that Full-Time Union Members make about $56,940 per year on average, which is about $10,500 more than Non-Union Workers.

The Union Difference is even greater for women, who earn 28.5% more when they are Union Members.

In addition to earning higher wages, the BLS also reports that Union Members are far more likely to have employer-provided health care and retirement benefits: 95% of Union Workers had the option of an employer-sponsored health care plan, compared to 68% of Non-Union Workers; 94% of Union Workers had access to an employee-sponsored retirement plan, compared to 67% of Non-Union Workers; 93% of Union Workers had the option of an employee-sponsored prescription drug coverage, compared to 67% of Non-Union Workers; and 74% of Union Workers had the option of an employer-sponsored dental plan, compared to 40% of Non-Union Workers.

National Union Membership Levels, which have dropped in recent years as Republican Lawmakers and Conservative Court Decisions have actively discouraged Unionization, dropped again slightly from 10.5% to 10.3% in 2019, according to the new BLS report.

The National AFL-CIO noted the latest national statistics “reflect both the tremendously difficult barriers Workers seeking to form a Union continue to face and the unmatched resilience of Working People in our desire to win bargaining power on the job.”

With its 18.8% Union Membership Rate, Washington is the third most Unionized state in the Nation.  

Only Hawaii (at 23.5%) and New York (at 21%) have a higher percentage of their workforce Unionized.

The comparatively low National Union Membership Rate of 10.3% is driven down by so-called Right-To-Work (for less) States like South Carolina (2.2%), North Carolina (2.3%), Virginia (4%), and Texas (4%) that actively discourage Unionization.

The BLS said that in 2019, 28 states and the District of Columbia had Union Membership Rates below that of the U.S. average, 10.3%, while 21 states had rates above it and one state had the same rate.

All states in both the East South Central and West South Central divisions had Union Membership Rates below the national average, while all states in both the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions had rates above it.

Eight states had Union Membership Rates below 5.0% in 2019. South Carolina and North Carolina had the lowest rates (2.2% and 2.3%, respectively).

The next lowest rates were in Texas and Virginia (4% each).

Two states had Union Membership Rates over 20% percent in 2019 - Hawaii (23.5%) and New York (21%).

Over half of the 14.6 million Union Members in the U.S. lived in just seven states: California, 2.5 million; New York, 1.7 million; Illinois, 0.8 million; Pennsylvania, 0.7 million; and New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington, 0.6 million each, though these states accounted for only about one-third of wage and salary employment nationally.

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