Tomorrow the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases its annual report on unionization figures for 2010.  Kudos to James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation for giving us the information early:

  • Union membership fell to 11.9 percent in 2010 from 12.3 percent in 2009.
  • Private sector union membership fell to 6.9 percent from 7.2 percent.
  • Public sector union membership fell to 36.2 percent from 37.4 percent.
  • There were 14,715,056 union members in the US last year, down 612,244 from 15,327,300 the year before.
  • 7,091,936union members worked in the private sector (down 338,864 members).
  • 7,623,120union members worked in the government (down 273,380 members)
  • 51.8 percentof union members work for the government.

This data is consistent with two longstanding trends in the American workforce: overall union membership is shrinking while public sector workers present a growing majority in unionized labor.

As the Alliance for Worker Freedom has previously reported, the rise of public sector unions—SEIU, AFSCME, and NEA are all big players—is partly responsible for the fiscal crises confronting many states today.  While job security, gold-plated retirement packages, and good benefits attract employees, they’ve been bankrupting state and local treasuries across the nation.  At the same time, private sector workers have had fewer and fewer reasons to choose collective bargaining, that is, if they get a choice at all: Big Labor has been viciously holding onto power by fighting against Right-to-Work and Paycheck Protection while pushing for mandatory membership and even less transparency.

Both groups have suffered a gradual drop in approval ratings in the last few years. Hopefully the demise of union power and popularity will mean freedom and prosperity for workers and states alike.

UPDATE: BLS has released its findings. They are available here.