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Government Workers Make Up Majority of Union Members

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that for the first time in American history, government workers make up the majority (51.5 percent) of all union members. Massive layoffs during the recession caused private-sector union membership to plummet by 10 percent last year, while government unions posted slight gains.
All told, union membership declined by 771,000 workers to 15.3 million. That's 12.3 percent among all workers, dropping from 12.4 percent in 2008. Government unions gained 64,000 members. This shift shows the continued difficulty unions face in trying to revive a movement that has declined steadily since its peak of about 35 percent of workers in the 1950s. It also undermines the traditional ability of unions to push private-sector wages higher.
"There has been steady growth among union members in the public sector, but I'm a little bit shocked to see that the lines have actually crossed," said Randel K. Johnson, senior vice president for labor at the United States Chamber of Commerce.

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