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Union Membership Rises in 2008

According to the BLS, union workers’ share of the workforce increased from 12.1 in 2007 to 12.4 in 2008.

American Rights at Work (ARW), a labor advocacy and policy organization working to advance the Employee Free Choice Act, has said the legislation is needed to reverse declines in union rolls over the past several years. In a press release yesterday, it notes, “workers see unions, and the higher job standards, benefits, and protections they provide, as a key solution in this struggling economy. The uptick further points to the strengths of unionized workplaces—where labor and management work together as a team, they are able to tackle challenges and better withstand an economic downturn.
“However, this (BLS) data does not provide a measure of how many workers are forming unions, a number that has been on the decline for years because of the increased opposition workers face from employers when trying to organize. Additional steps like passage of the Employee Free Choice Act are necessary to ensure that all of America’s workers can exercise their legal right to form unions,” the release states.
Following the BLS report’s release, American Rights at Work executive director Mary Beth Maxwell issued the following statement: “These numbers show that Americans understand the role unions play in improving working families’ standard of living, particularly in our downturn economy. However, many more workers want unions but are stymied in their efforts to form them. In fact, 60 million workers say they would join a union today if they could. Unfortunately, 94 percent of employers resist their workers’ efforts to form unions, and 25 percent even fire pro-union workers during organizing campaigns. We can only expect a meaningful increase in union membership and a restored middle class when men and women are able to truly exercise their federally-protected right to form a union.
Enacting legislation such as the Employee Free Choice Act will help level the playing field and give workers a free choice about forming a union again – so they can bargain for fair pay and health care. With a new president and vice president, and a majority in Congress who support the Employee Free Choice Act, more working families should soon have a fair shot at achieving the American Dream.”

The International Foodservice Distributors Association has made lobbying against passage of the Employee Free Choice Act one of its top three legislative issues. To view IFDA’s position on the issue, click here.

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