Oregon unions gain members, face uncertain future growth

| Print |  Email
Sunday, March 01, 2009

STATEWIDE In late January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released national data that showed unions, despite the economy, grew for the second year in a row in 2008. Membership increased from 12.1% to 12.4%; the number of union and non-union members covered by a collective bargaining agreement increased from 13.3% to 13.7%.


In Oregon the growth rate was bigger. The number of workers covered by collective bargaining agreements jumped from 14.7% of the workforce in 2006 to 17.4% in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers. At the end of last year, 272,000 workers, or 17.4% of the state's workforce, were either union members or fell under a collective bargaining umbrella.

Those numbers appear impressive. However, they may not represent the entire labor picture in Oregon. Both Don McIntosh, the associate editor at Portland-based Northwest Labor Press, and Shauna Ballo, the spokesperson for Service Employees International Union Local 49, say the growth rates should be taken with a grain of salt. State-by-state data is extrapolated from a national survey of about 60,000 households, not from state-specific data.

Nor do the BLS numbers show what type of growth that occured. Ballo points out how SEIU 49's biggest increase in membership came from workers in one single industry forming a union, not from growth across multiple sectors.

The economy will provide even more complications for 2009 union-membership numbers. Some indicators look good; many more look bad. Public agencies, the health care industry and construction firms working on major public works projects haven't seen layoffs, which bodes well for union members in those sectors.

But McIntosh points out that sectors that traditionally have been union strongholds, like manufacturing, are in serious decline.

Even intangibles like employees' fears about the economy and their jobs will have an effect.

"Everybody is getting hit right now," Ballo says.

"You're going to see people who say, 'Wow, joining a union would be a good idea, but if I'm seen talking to the people who are organizing, I'm going to get fired.'"       ABRAHAM HYATT


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

An uncertain future

Guest Blog
Thursday, May 21, 2015
norristhumbBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

Uncertainty is a part of doing business, whether in through the lens of investment opportunities and risks or the business of running an enterprise.


Read more...

Make the Case

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015

10 briefcases that mean business.


Read more...

Energy Stream

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Oregon already ranks as the nation’s second largest generator of hydroelectric power. (Washington is No. 1). Now an elegant new installation in Portland is putting an unconventional, sharing economy twist on this age-old water-energy pairing. The new system, launched this winter, uses the flow of water inside city water pipes to spin four turbines that produce electricity for Portland General Electric customers. 


Read more...

European Vacation

Guest Blog
Thursday, April 23, 2015
norristhumbBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

There are winners and losers with a strengthening U.S. dollar.


Read more...

6 development projects reshaping Bend

The Latest
Thursday, April 09, 2015
bendthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Bend has reclaimed its prerecession title as one of the fastest growing cities in the country.


Read more...

Correction: Biker dreams

The Latest
Friday, May 15, 2015
bike at ater wynn-thumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is seeking input from businesses on a $5.5 million initiative to create a network of biking, transit and pedestrian trails within Portland’s central city.


Read more...

Picture This

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

As a general rule, the more people with autism can be provided with visual cues, the better they will be able to understand and manage their environment. It’s a lesson Tom Keating learned well. The 61-year-old Eugene grant writer spent 31 years taking care of his autistic brother James, and in the late 1980s developed a spreadsheet that created a series of nonsense characters that grew or shrank depending on how much money James had in his account. 


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS