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| 1 minute read

Big Labor Got Bigger in 2023

While union numbers on the whole generally declined in 2023, some of the biggest American unions were able to augment their numbers in spite of the downward trend.

According to a recent report from Bloomberg, "Many of the nation’s largest unions including the Teamsters and West Coast dock workers saw membership gains last year, signaling potential for new organizing even as the labor movement struggles to tighten its grip on the workforce, according to new federal data.

"The numbers paint a more optimistic portrait of unions’ ability to recruit new members, particularly in the service and manufacturing sectors, even in the face of declining density nationwide. Two dozen groups added members in 2023, a year marked by high-profile strikes and labor stoppage threats across industries. The additions overcome losses from seven other peer unions, according to a Bloomberg Law analysis of disclosures filed with the US Department of Labor last week."

A graphic from Bloomberg illustrates some gains and losses by notable unions.

For context, union membership rates across private and public sector workers overall dropped to 10 percent in 2023, down from 10.1 percent in 2022. For comparison, when this data first became available in 1983, that number was at 20.1 percent – or double where unions are now. In the private sector, only 6 percent of those workers now belong to unions as of 2023. 

Nevertheless, this report showing gains by some of the nation's largest labor organizations, combined with historic union organizing numbers and the seemingly growing number of union election successes, may move those union membership percentages upward by the close of 2024. In addition, recent changes by the National Labor Relations Board to the union election process may further help unions bolster their ranks. We'll see how this all shakes out by year's end. Stay tuned.