TownNews.com Content Exchange

Labor unions -- an organized group of workers in a given trade -- have changed the nature of labor relations in the United States. Through collective bargaining, unions have fought to earn many workers' rights that many of us take for granted, including weekends off, a 40-hour work week, and paid vacations.

As the global economy has become increasingly interconnected, however, foreign competition has resulted in weakening union power in much of the country. Traditional union demands for better working conditions, benefits, and pay have made it more difficult for American companies to compete in an international market, where labor is cheap. This has been especially true for the manufacturing sector -- American automakers in particular. Here are five countries manufacturing more cars than America.

With plants closing amid global competition and companies demanding more leeway, the share of U.S. workers who were union members has been on the decline since the 1980s. Union membership rate nationwide declined by 1.1 percentage points in the last decade, from 11.9% in 2010 to 10.8% in 2020.

Union participation is anything but uniform across all states, and in some parts of the country membership remains at levels not seen nationally since the 1980s. Using state-level data on the share of workforces that belong to a labor union, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the strongest and weakest unions.

Generally, the states with where labor union participation is weakest, are those that have strong anti-union laws. Perhaps the most common and effective anti-union measures are so-called "right-to-work" laws, which prohibit companies from requiring employees to join a union or pay dues. The term "right-to-work" itself is misleading, as in no way do these laws guarantee employment for those seeking it. Instead, they erode the strength of unions, diminishing their collective bargaining power.

Of the 5.3 million people working in Pennsylvania, 13.5% are members of a labor union. Participation in organized labor peaked in the state in 1989, when 20.9% of workers were unionized, and bottomed out in 2017 and again in 2019, when only 12.0% of workers were in a union.

Powerful unions in the Keystone State include United Steelworkers and Pennsylvania State Education Association.

Union membership statistics are from UnionStats, a database powered by the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. Additional data on historical union membership and union membership by sector also came from UnionStats. Supplemental data on annual median wage came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Employment Statistics program and is for 2019.

RankGeography:Workers in a labor union:10-yr. change in union membership (ppt.):Avg. annual wage:
 United States10.8%-1.1$53,490
1Hawaii23.6%1.9$54,930
2New York22.0%-2.2$63,970
3Rhode Island17.8%1.4$57,220
4Alaska17.6%-5.3$59,290
5Washington17.4%-2.1$62,020
6Connecticut17.1%0.4$62,350
7Oregon16.2%0.0$53,890
8California16.2%-1.3$61,290
9New Jersey16.1%-1.0$59,980
10Minnesota15.8%0.2$55,890
11Michigan15.2%-1.3$50,780
12Maine14.6%3.0$48,470
13Illinois14.2%-1.3$55,130
14Pennsylvania13.5%-1.2$51,340
15Nevada13.4%-1.6$47,210
16Ohio13.2%-0.5$49,430
17Maryland13.1%1.5$60,230
18Montana12.0%-0.7$45,370
19Massachusetts12.0%-2.5$65,680
20Vermont11.8%0.0$51,120
21West Virginia10.6%-4.1$43,420
22Delaware9.9%-1.5$54,370
23New Hampshire9.8%-0.4$53,950
24Nebraska9.6%0.3$48,250
25Missouri9.4%-0.5$47,820
26Kansas8.8%2.0$46,520
27Wisconsin8.7%-5.4$48,850
28Indiana8.2%-2.7$46,770
29Alabama8.0%-2.2$44,930
30Wyoming7.6%0.2$49,760
31Kentucky7.5%-1.5$44,020
32Colorado7.4%0.8$57,690
33Mississippi7.2%2.7$40,090
34New Mexico7.2%-0.2$47,040
35Iowa6.6%-4.8$47,330
36Florida6.4%0.9$47,750
37North Dakota6.2%-1.1$50,430
38Oklahoma6.0%0.5$45,620
39Louisiana5.9%1.5$44,170
40Idaho5.6%-1.5$44,890
41Arizona5.3%-1.1$50,930
42Texas4.9%-0.6$50,490
43Arkansas4.7%0.7$42,690
44Georgia4.7%0.6$49,620
45Virginia4.4%-0.2$56,740
46Tennessee4.3%-0.3$45,650
47South Dakota4.3%-1.3$42,920
48Utah3.6%-2.9$49,420
49North Carolina3.1%0.0$48,550
50South Carolina2.9%-1.7$44,380

This article originally ran on 247wallst.com.

Locations

TownNews.com Content Exchange