According to the
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 17.8 percent (81,000) of Rhode
Island private and public sector workers were union members in
2012. This represented an over-the-year increase of four-tenths
of a percentage point, or 2,000 workers. The number of union
members were at its highest level since 2003 and accounted for
the largest percentage of employed workers since 2009 (17.9%).
union membership rate was 11.3 percent in 2012, down from 11.8
percent in 2011 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 (23.2%), Alaska
(22.4%), Hawaii (21.6%) and Washington (18.5%). North Carolina
(2.9%), Arkansas (3.2%) and South Carolina (3.3%) had the lowest
union membership rates in 2012.
Ocean State had the highest union membership rate in New
England, followed by Massachusetts (14.4%), Connecticut (14.0%)
and Maine (11.5%). Vermont (10.7%) and New Hampshire (10.5%)
both had union membership rates below the national average.
Union members and
workers whose jobs are covered by a union or employee
association contract represented 12.5 percent of the nation’s
wage and salary workers and 18.4 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