Union membership up in the South

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Not just North Carolina

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual data on unions and unionization rates – the percentage of union members relative to the workforce – North Carolina wasn’t the only southern state to see an increase last year over 2014, reports Chris Kromm with the Institute for Southern Studies:

Over the last year, the share of U.S. workers belonging to unions held steady at 11.1 percent, according to data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the new BLS figures also show unions made surprising gains in a region where labor faces some of its biggest legal and political obstacles to organizing: the U.S. South.

In the 13 Southern states*, the number of workers belonging to unions grew from 2.2 million in 2014, or 5.2 percent of the workforce, to 2.4 million by the end of 2015, or 5.5 percent of Southern workers.

Chart showing unionization rates in the South (source)

Chart showing unionization rates in the South (source)

Union leaders feel the urgency to continue labor’s momentum in the South, however modest, but they also recognize that defending recent gains — much less growing in the often union-hostile climate in Southern states — will require a long-term commitment to Southern organizing.

Read more: Union membership creeps upward in the South