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North Carolina Unions Added 16,000 Members in 2017

Jeremy Sprinkle
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For Immediate Release

Contact: Jeremy Sprinkle, 336-255-2711 / [email protected]

New Data: North Carolina Unions Added 16,000 Members in 2017
Percent of union members in North Carolina workforce now 3.4 percent

RALEIGH - The Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data showing that unions of working people in North Carolina added 16,000 members in 2017, with total membership rising to 145,000 workers or 3.4 percent of the total workforce in the state. That union membership climbed despite a slight dip in the total number of workers covered by union contracts indicates more of them value being dues-paying members despite North Carolina's 70-year-old "right to work" law.

"The growth in union membership shows that working people understand the power we have when we join together," said MaryBe McMillan, President of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO. "Whether it's in the workplace, the capitol, or in the streets, by standing together we can change our economic policies and make sure that all working people are able to support their families. Amidst rising inequality, our freedom to join together in unions is more important than ever."

Nationally, the number of union members rose by 260,000 in 2017. Other key national trends include:

  • Young workers continue to drive union growth. Since 2012, union membership among workers under 35 has continued to rise. Last year, they made up three-quarters of new members.
  • Professionals and information industry workers continue to drive growth, reflecting key organizing successes by the Communications Workers of America; the Writers Guild of America, East; the American Federation of Teachers; and the American Federation of Government Employees.
  • Recent victories are among workers across sectors ranging from media employees to charter school teachers and librarian professionals to the 20,000 doctors who joined unions in the last year.

Click here to see the BLS figures showing unionization rates by state.

Click here to read the BLS economic news release in full.


The North Carolina State AFL-CIO is the largest association of unions of working people in North Carolina, representing a hundred and forty-five thousand members, working together for good jobs, safe workplaces, workers’ rights, consumer protections, and quality public services on behalf of ALL working people. PO Box 10805, Raleigh, NC 27605