Government

Union Representation Shows Slight Gain in Ohio

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio defied a national trend of lower union membership, something the president of the Ohio AFL-CIO attributes to the members of the state unions’ success in fending off “the worst of these attacks.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday that the union membership rate nationally in 2016 was 10.7%, down 0.4 percentage points from 2015. The number of organized labor wage and salary workers, at 14.6 million in 2016, declined by 240,000 from 2015.

In Ohio, the number of workers represented increased slightly – by 0.1% — over the year, from 12.3% in 2015 to 12.4% last year. The number of union members in the state rose from 606,000 in 2015 to 617,000 last year.

“The national drop in union membership is the direct result of continued attacks on working people across the country,” Tim Burga, Ohio AFL-CIO president, said in a news release. “The relative stability of our Ohio membership is attributable to the fact that we have been successful in fending off the worst of these attacks — attacks that political extremists continue to push.”

In 2011, following the election of Republican John Kasich as Ohio governor, the GOP-led Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 5, which restricted collective bargaining rights for state and local public workers. Opponents responded with a statewide referendum that overturned the legislation.

“There is simply no substitute for working people bargaining collectively for a fair share of the wealth we help create,” Burga said. “Collective bargaining leads to higher wages, better benefits, safer workplaces and a more robust economy.  We will continue to defend these basic rights at every turn.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.