The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, March 22, 2013

AFL-CIO membership down slightly in 2012

By The Building Tradesman

ORLANDO, Fla. (PAI) – AFL-CIO unions had 8,384,725 members in calendar year 2012, down 70,317 (less than 1 percent) from the year before, figures distributed last month to the federation’s Executive Council showed.

Among the building trades unions, membership losses were almost universal. A longer range view of building trades union membership numbers showed that from 2007 through 2012, only the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters and the Operating Engineers did not lose membership during those five years, and their numbers both remained flat.

The Painters and Allied Trades’ membership, at 71,346 members in 2012, fell 21 percent between 2007 and 2012, the largest percentage drop among the building trades. Next, the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers had 75,000 members in 2012, but lost 20 percent of their membership compared to 2007. Not far behind were the Iron Workers, who were down to 74,792 members in 2012, a 15.9 percent drop from 2007.

Percentage membership declines in the rest of the building trades unions were all in the single digits.

Last month, we reported that overall union membership dropped from 11.8 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2011 to 11.3 percent in 2012. Those numbers were for unions that were and were not affiliated with the AFL-CIO.It’s the lowest level of workforce unionization in the U.S. since the 1930s.

Among other unions, the United Auto Workers, after years of layoffs and buyouts at the Detroit Three, which greatly reduced their active membership, gained 1,167 members in 2012, to 371,672.

The largest numerical declines from 2011 to 2012 were in the federation’s two largest unions, AFSCME and the Teachers.  Both drops reflected cuts in state and local workforces due to the recession and – in some states – partisan attacks.  AFSCME was down 25,347 members to 1.318 million.  The Teachers lost 30,513, to 1.099 million.

Notable gainers in 2012 included the American Federation of Government Employees (+9,050, to 277,050), the Steelworkers (+4,000 to 439,535), Unite Here (+22,297 to 231,624), National Nurses United (+16,000 to 144,000) and the Machinists (+5,826 to 307,579).