A new report shows that American labor unions have experienced their worst decline in membership in nearly 80 years, mainly due to losses of public sector workers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Wednesday that the union membership rate fell from 11.8 to 11.3 percent for workers in every sector in 2012 – the lowest level since the 1930s.
Total membership dropped by about 400,000 workers to 14.4 million, with the majority losses attributed to government workers including teachers, firefighters and public administrators.
Experts say that poorer state and local governments have caused the drop in membership as they fight to curb union bargaining rights.
In 2011, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker passed a controversial law that eliminated most union rights for government employees, with the state losing approximately 46,000 union members in 2012.
“Our still-struggling economy, weak laws and political as well as ideological assaults have taken a toll on union membership, and in the process have also imperiled economic security and good, middle class jobs,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
In 2012, full-time union members had a median weekly salary of USD 943, with their non-union counterparts earning only USD 742.
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