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Organized Labor Loses Members

Wall Street Journal (01/23/13) Melanie Trottman; Kris Maher

The percentage of employees who belong to unions declined in 2012 to the lowest level since World War II, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some 11.3% of the work force was in a union last year, down from 11.8% in 2011. Most of the decline took place in the public sector, which accounts for the majority of union members. Manufacturing was particularly hard hit. Union membership fell despite an increase in manufacturing employment. Construction, steel plants, and food manufacturing also were hit by union membership declines, says the Center for Economic and Policy Research. However, unions are adding Latino members and employees in fast-growing sectors of the economy, such as some components of the health care industry.