Happy Labor Day: Thank a Union

On this Labor Day, I would like everyone, in this climate of union villification and increasing deregulation, to stop and think about what unions have done for this country and why they are still relevant. To remind everyone as to the extent of union membership in the United States, I have created the two maps below that show 1) The total number of union members per state, and 2) the percentage of workers that are represented by a union. California, Michigan, New York, Washington State and Alaska (!) top the list in percentages. Nearly a quarter of all workers in those state are represented by unions. Arkansas and Mississippi… not so much.

Our unions are something to be proud of. Problems may be easier to report on than successes, but that doesn’t mean that the successes aren’t there. The power of collective action and worker representation is essential to a healthy democracy. Without it, business runs wild, eroding working conditions, fair wages and insured employment, but mostly taking advantage of a climate where individual workers have no represenation when things go wrong (and they do).

Percent of Employed Workers Represented by a Union

Total Union Membership by State

About Pete Larson

Researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Lecturer in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I do epidemiology, public health, GIS, health disparities and environmental justice. I also do music and weird stuff.

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