The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that public-sector workers are five times more likely than private-sector workers to be union members and that a slightly higher share of federal employees were represented by unions in 2014 than in 2013.
Some 7.2 million employees in the public sector in 2014 belonged to a union, according to the BLS’s Union Membership Survey. Even though the percentage of public-sector workers who are union members is higher compared to membership among the private sector, there are still 7.4 million unionized employees in the private sector.
In 2014, 27.5 percent of federal employees were union members and 31.6 percent were represented by union contracts. In 2013, 26.5 percent of federal employees belonged to unions and 31.2 percent enjoyed union representation.
Overall, the nation’s union membership rate was 11.1 percent in 2014, down 0.2 percentage point from 2013.
In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data is available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers, according to the BLS.
More Federal Employees Joining Unions
Federal employee union membership has been growing consistently over the last several years and saw an uptick after the 2013 government shutdown, according to the government business news daily, Government Executive. Union membership grew in 2013 despite a loss of 92,000 jobs in the prior 12 months due to sequestration cuts.
For example, the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, lost members during the shutdown but picked up about 1,100 members once it was resolved. The National Federation of Federal Employees also saw a “small spike” in membership, according to Government Executive.
Spokesmen for both unions cited activism against the shutdown and sequestration with raising visibility and regard for the unions among federal employees. At its annual legislative gathering this month, the AFGE vowed to combat any congressional efforts to shrink the federal workforce, cut pay and benefits or weaken unions.
Upon the release of President Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget proposal earlier this month, the AFGE, NFFE, and National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association all criticized the 1.3 percent pay increase proposal as insufficient while expressing support for ending sequestration.
Our Support for Union Members
At Harris Federal, we have deep respect for union members and provide support to them through educational programs and cooperative agreements such as the program we have shared with the National Treasury Employees Union in which we provide discounted rates for our legal services. The NETU represents more than 150,000 federal employees in 31 federal agencies and departments.
Harris Federal is the nation’s leading law firm focusing on federal disability retirement programs and ensuring federal employees receive the benefits they are due.
We work daily to do all we can to assist union members with federal disability retirement benefits – no matter where they live in the U.S.
If we can help you or your union chapter, please contact us and receive a free consultation.