The following was submitted by Bronxville Mayor Mary C. Marvin.
As a major election approaches this fall, there is much talk about the role of special interest groups, often with unions mentioned in the first breath. I thought it instructive to research the make-up of unions as the general election approaches, with an emphasis on our home state.
- Nationally, 11.8% of the American workforce belongs to a union representing the lowest rate in the past 70 years.
- By contrast, New York State is more than double the national average with 24.1% of workers represented by a union (the lowest percentage rate recorded since 1989).
- New York union membership percentage peaked in 1991 at 29.1%.
- New York still has the highest percentage in the country followed by Alaska (22.1%), Hawaii (21.5%) and Washington State (19.0%).
- New York has had the highest union membership rate for the past 15 years. 1,906,000 New York residents are union members.
- As a comparison, Texas has approximately one fourth as many union members as New York despite having 2.3 million salaried employees.
- The states with the lowest percentage of union membership are North and South Carolina (below 3%).
- Nationally, 16.3 million citizens are represented by a union with over half of the membership concentrated in just seven states – California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio.
- Nationally, the public sector is far more unionized at 37% versus the private sector at 6.9 million. By way of comparison, in 1954 the peak year for American unions, 35% of workers were union members.
- In 2010, private sector unions lost 10% of their membership, the single largest decline in 25 years.
- In a worldwide comparison, 18.6% of workers in Germany are unionized as are 27.5% in Canada and a full 70% in Finland.
- Union membership now represents a vastly different slice of America than it did at the height of our manufacturing dominance.
- One quarter of union membership is non-white; there is gender parity and members are now more likely to live in the suburbs.
- Unionized workers in 2012 are more likely to be teachers, librarians, trash collectors, policemen and firefighters than carpenters, electricians, plumbers, autoworkers or miners.
- In 28 states, unions have the right to demand any employer fire any employee who does not want to join the union.
- The top 20 labor unions over the past 20 years have donated over $500,000 million to Federal election campaigns. 95% of this money went to candidates from the Democratic Party.
- A major thrust of the current union organizations is to amend the Labor Relations Act to allow a union to be certified as the official union to bargain with an employer if union officials can collect signatures of a majority of the workers. This “Employee Free Choice Bill” would remove the present right of the employer to demand a separate secret ballot election. The original bill was sponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy, then taken up by Senator Al Franken. President Obama is in support of the passage of this amendment.
- In New York State, 70% of state employees are union members. This so named “public sector union” has significant advantages over traditional unions. By using the political process, public sector unions can exert great influence over their members’ employer i.e., the government by helping to get elected those who will sit across the bargaining table as the management in a way that cannot happen in a corporation. As the famous New York labor leader Victor Gotbaum said, “We have the ability, in a sense, to elect our own boss.”
- In private sector unions, labor demands can render their employers uncompetitive thus threatening long term job security as market forces are always changing.
- There is not the same market pressure in public sector negotiating as taxes can be raised to cover any way wage or benefit increases.
- Also, public sector union dues must be deducted directly from paychecks by the government entity vastly reducing administrative costs as well as guaranteeing 100% payment participation.
In Bronxville, our police officers are represented by their independent local union, the Bronxville Police Benevolent Association.
Our Department of Public Works staff is represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, an international union. Library staff is represented by the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), a State-wide organization. The Village’s administrative staff is non-affiliated.
The Teamsters and CSEA are member organizations to the nationwide AFL-CIO.