Labor unions exist to increase the collective bargaining power of their members to negotiate higher wages and better benefits. And historically, they have done just that. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical non-union worker earns just 80% of what the typical unionized worker earns on a weekly basis. Labor unions have also helped to greatly improve benefits and reduce pay inequality along racial and gender lines.
While unions can provide some benefits to workers, anti-union advocates argue that unions stifle economic growth, limit corporate competitiveness, and unfairly pass higher costs down to the consumer or taxpayer. In an increasingly competitive and interconnected global economy, union membership is eroding in the United States. Today, just 10.7% of the U.S. workforce is unionized, down from 24.0% in 1973.
Labor unions are an inherently political issue, and some states are more likely to be receptive to collective bargaining than others. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the BLS to identify the states where union membership is the strongest and weakest. In some states — many of which are concentrated in the West and the Northeast — union membership rates are high, near levels not seen nationwide since the 1970s. However, in other states — many of which are in the South — union membership rates are less than half the comparable national rate.