The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, February 12, 2016

Michigan sees boost in union membership

By The Building Tradesman

LANSING – Despite a three-year-old right-to-work law and a right-wing Legislature that has seemingly made every effort to eradicate union vitality, labor union membership went up in Michigan in 2015.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data on Jan. 28 that shows the percent of wage and salary workers in Michigan who were members of unions increased from 14.5 percent in 2014 to 15.2 percent in 2015. Labor unions in Michigan added approximately 36,000 new members last year. Strong employment in the auto industry is seen as a major contributor to the better union membership numbers.

“This is good news for all working people in Michigan,” said Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “Despite the unrelenting attacks from Lansing politicians, working people understand the value of collective bargaining. A union contract gives working people the power to speak up together with one clear voice for fair wages, strong benefits, and time to be with family. And when working people earn wages that can sustain a family, it helps our small businesses and creates more jobs. Lansing needs to get the message, and start working together to make Michigan’s economy work for all of us, not just the wealthy.”

However, labor union membership in Michigan took a significant hit in 2014, dropping to 14.5 percent union workforce penetration from 16.3 percent in 2013.

In 2015, Michigan was one of the only two Great Lakes states to see an increase in union membership: Ohio was down from 12.4 percent in 2014 to 12.3 percent in 2015; Indiana was down from 10.7 percent in 2014 to 10.0 percent in 2015; Illinois was up from 15.1 percent in 2014 to 15.2 percent in 2015; Wisconsin was down from 11.7 percent in 2014 to 8.3 percent in 2015; and Minnesota was unchanged from 14.2 percent in 2014 to 14.2 percent in 2015.