The Department of Labor today released its annual report on union membership. The data show that while the number of union members is dropping, so too is the proportion of union members in the workforce. The figures for private sector union membership in today’s report decreased from 7.6 percent in 2008 to 7.2 percent last year and down from 11.4 percent to 10.9 percent for the manufacturing workforce.
Is this trend one that should be countered by forcing more people into union membership? That seems to be the argument that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis derives from the new figures, in a statement calling for passage of the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). She says:
As workers across the country have seen their real and nominal wages decline as a result of the recession, these numbers show a need for Congress to pass legislation to level the playing field to enable more American workers to access the benefits of union membership. This report makes clear why the administration supports the Employee Free Choice Act.
It’s clear that union leaders and their allies are frustrated with the lack of progress to enact their agenda and the fact that fewer workers are choosing to join a union. However, that’s no cause to radically overhaul our labor law system at the expense of our economy and workers’ rights.
This renewed effort by labor leaders and the Administration to enact the jobs killing card check legislation is certainly cause for concern. While this legislation could reasonably be expected to reverse the downward trend of union membership, it comes with high price tag: it would result in the loss of 600,000 jobs in the first year alone. As policymakers turn their focus to job creation efforts, it is contradictory to advocate proposals that will instead destroy jobs – and force people into union membership against their will.