Oregon unions gain members, face uncertain future growth

| Print |  Email
Archives - March 2009
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

Old school: Paulsen's Pharmacy maintains old fashion ethos

The Latest
Thursday, December 18, 2014
121914-pharmacy-thumbBY MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Under the radar — complete with a soda counter, the traditional Paulsen's Pharmacy looks to compete with big box retailers.


Read more...

I Know How You Feel

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Most smartphones come equipped with speech recognition systems like Siri or Cortana that are capable of understanding the human voice and putting words into actions. But what if smartphones could do more? What if smartphones could register feeling?


Read more...

Justice for All

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Lawger upends the typical hourly based fee model by letting clients determine the cost.


Read more...

Healthcare Perspective

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Majd El-Azma, president and CEO of LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon, followed by the Healthcare Powerlist.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peter Lizotte at ACME Business Solutions and Roger Busse at Pacific Continental Bank share their favorite reads.


Read more...

Election Season

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

We didn’t intend this issue to have an election season theme. But politics has a way of seeping into the cracks and fissures.


Read more...

A Complex Portrait: Immigration, Jobs and the Economy

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE & KIM MOORE

Oregon Business reports on the visa squeeze, the skills gap and foreign-born residents who are revitalizing rural Oregon.


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