AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has issued the following statement in response to today’s release of the annual Bureau of Labor Statistics report on union membership. That report – which may be accessed on the BLS website by clicking HERE – begins with the following: “The union membership rate – the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions – was 10.7 percent in 2016, down 0.4 percentage point from 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.6 million in 2016, declined by 240,000 from 2015.”
Collective Action Is Stronger Than Ever
Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the release of the annual Bureau of Labor Statistics report on union membership:
The sky is falling! The labor movement is dead! These are the canned reactions that of out-of-touch people who want to believe their own story about unions in America will tell themselves when they see today’s report. But neither reflect a real understanding about a movement that cannot be defined by government statistics.
The truth is, collective action in America is stronger than ever. We’ve seen the source of our power in defeating the TPP, even when most people told us we couldn’t. We’ve seen it in successfully raising wages at the state and local levels against great political odds. And we’ll use it to begin to change the tide for all working people. Because a strong labor movement raises wages for all working families and improves our entire economy. For decades, study after study has proven that all wages in America have a direct tie to union density. And according to today’s report, workers in a union made $202 more per week. That’s money in people’s pocket. That’s a government statistic we can get behind.
Even though collective action remains strong, we recognize that the labor movement has challenges. The biggest challenges have been put in place by corporations and their hired politicians who have been at the throats of workers for years. The ugly truth is, because of these attacks, we live in a country where working people are constantly denied our right – our constitutional right – to join a union in the first place. With the way the deck is currently stacked, it’s a miracle that brave workers continue to find new ways to organize and that today’s numbers aren’t even worse. But we also recognize our own challenges. We must be a better movement for a changing workforce. We must adapt our structures to fit the needs of today’s workers. We must not be afraid to challenge ourselves to better serve working families. And we know we will succeed because we are committed to doing just that, inspired by the spirit we see in working people every day from coast to coast, in industries far and wide.