According to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics (BLS), 16.9 percent (77,000) of Rhode Island private
and public sector workers were union members in 2013. This
represented an over-the-year decrease of nine-tenths of a
percentage point, or 4,000 workers. The number of union members
were at its lowest level since 2010 and accounted for the
smallest percentage of employed workers since 2010 (16.4%).
Nationally, the union
membership rate was 11.3 percent in 2013, unchanged from 2012
and well below the 20.1 percent measured in 1983. Among the
fifty states, Rhode Island reported the fifth highest union
membership rate, trailing New York (24.4%), Alaska (23.1%),
Hawaii (22.1%) and Washington (18.9%). North Carolina (3.0%),
Arkansas (3.5%), Mississippi (3.7%) and South Carolina (3.7%)
had the lowest union membership rates in 2013.
Regionally, the Ocean State had
the highest union membership rate in New England, followed by
Massachusetts (13.7%) and Connecticut (13.5%). Maine (11.1%),
Vermont (10.9%) and New Hampshire (9.6%) had union membership
rates below the national average.
Union members and
workers whose jobs are covered by a union or employee
association contract represented 12.4 percent of the nation’s
wage and salary workers and 17.8 percent of Rhode Island’s wage
and salary workers.
* 1983 is the first year for which comparable union data
Data included within this report is derived from the Current Population
Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of households conducted by the Bureau of
Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Union membership data refers to
members of a labor union or an employee association similar to a union.
Union representation data includes union members as well as workers who
report no union affiliation, but whose jobs are covered by a union or an
employee association contract. For more information on CPS data, please