Updated March 29 at 6:27pm

Union membership falls in R.I., Mass. in 2012


BOSTON – Rhode Island and Massachusetts both had fewer union members in 2012 than in 2011, according to a report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Wednesday.

In 2012, union members account for 17.4 percent, roughly 79,000, of Rhode Island’s wage and salary workers compared to 17.8 percent, or 81,000, in 2011.

While the number of union members dropped 0.4 percentage points from 2011 to 2012, the number of Rhode Island’s wage and salary workers represented by unions increased 0.5 percentage points to 18.4 percent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics define workers “represented by unions” as both union members and workers, who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union or an employee association contract.

In Rhode Island in 2012, 18.4 percent, roughly 84,000, of wage and salary workers were defined as “represented by unions,” a 0.5 percentage point increase from the 17.9 percent, 81,000, workers in 2011.

In Massachusetts, 14.4 percent, roughly 417,000, of wage and salary workers were union members in 2012, compared to 14.6 percent, or 422,000, in 2011.

Much like Rhode Island, the number of Massachusetts’ wage and salary workers defined as “represented by unions” increased from 2011 to 2012. In 2011, 15.4 percent, or 445,000, of the state’s wage and salary workers were “represented by unions” versus 16.2 percent, or 470,000, in 2012.

Both Rhode Island and Massachusetts had union membership rates will above the national average of 11.3 in 2012. Nationally, 11.4 million wage and salary workers were union members in 2012 and 1.6 million wage and salary workers were not affiliated with a union but had jobs covered by a union contract.

Rhode Island was one of nine states with a union membership exceeding 15 percent. New York has had the highest membership rate in the country for 16 of the past 18 years. In 2012 it was 23.2 percent.

North Carolina, Arkansas and South Carolina had the lowest union membership rates in the country at 2.9 percent, 3.2 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.


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