In 2020 there was an increase in the percentage of employees who were members of a union; there was also an increase the percentage of employees who were represented by unions. This comes after an overall decline in union membership and representation since 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2010 16.5 percent of employees were members of a union in Michigan and 17. 3 percent were represented by a union. In 2020 15.2 percent of employees were members of a union and 16.6 percent were represented by a union; both categories experienced increases from 2019. Overall in Michigan in 2020 there were 604,000 union members. In addition to these members, another 57,000 wage and salary workers in Michigan were represented by a union on their main job or covered by an employee association or contract while not union members themselves.
While the BLS does not track union membership by sector or occupation at the state level, nationally the BLS reports that the union membership rate of public-sector workers is more than five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers who are union members. According to the BLS, 33.9 percent of the public-sector employees were union members in 2021. Of those public-sector employees in the union, majority were represented those in the education, training, library and protective service occupations. The percentage of private-sector employees who were union members was 6.1 percent in 2021. According to the BLS, and a recent New York Times article, majority of the union membership decline has come from the private sector. Nationally, private-sector union membership was at 6 percent in 2021 and in 1983 it was at 17 percent.
Overall there are a greater number of private-sector employees than government employees, and while the charts below show there was a decline in the total number of employees in both sectors after COVID, the lack of union representation in the private-sector is causing, at least some, to leave their jobs, according to the New York Times article. With a shift in the labor market and workplace practices since the pandemic began, more and more workers are feeling confident in their ability to leave jobs that don’t fit their needs. While the New York Times sites that this doesn’t always leave to increased union activity, the current labor market has certainly allowed more people to be more vocal and how their employer can meet their needs, and not just the other way around.