Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual union membership summary which, unsurprisingly revealed little change in the number of workers who belong to unions. [Total union membership went from 11.9% to 11.8%.]
Commenters across the web provided their take on the membership numbers with the Heritage Foundation's James Sherk providing perhaps the best analysis as to why union membership keeps falling.
Deregulation and free trade have since made the economy more competitive, giving Americans more choices. Now Americans can buy from whomever offers the most value. Unfortunately for the union movement, that company is often nonunion.
One particularly interesting commentary on the BLS numbers was that from former co-founder of ACORN and ex-SEIU bigwig Wade Rathke, who opined that private-sector union membership might fall as low as 5% "unless something serious and drastic happens."
Apparently, to Rathke, a National Labor Relations Board stacked with union lawyers bent on shaping the law to accommodate their employers and clients is not drastic enough; nor, apparently, is having a President of the United States giving away taxpayer money to subsidize unionized industries.
Notwithstanding Rathke's ominous 5% prediction, that, however, was not the interesting part of his statement.
What was extremely interesting was the nut that Rathke dropped by implying the AFL-CIO may have misled, duped, or otherwise tricked people into joining its community organizing project called Working America and is using those fallacious numbers in reporting to the BLS.
Here is Rathke's comments [emphasis added] in context.
Bureau of Labor Statistics announced another slight drop last year of union membership compared to the overall non-farm workforce from 11.9 to 11.8%. Steven Greenhouse in the Times reports that union membership is now 14,760,000. The public sector percentage was 37% and about 7,560,000 and the private sector percentage is now only 6.9% with about 7,200,000. Private sector membership is clearly heading towards 5%, unless something serious and drastic happens.
The numbers could have been worse. There is speculation that the AFL-CIO is claiming 3,000,000 members from its Working America unit as part of their membership totals, which would be wild, since these are “canvassed” members rather than “real” dues paying members in local unions around the country.
Then, there is this...
There are still scars on the ears of AFL-CIO staffers from 2008 who did phonebanking to the call list with that group and heard in no uncertain terms from many of these “members” that they had no idea they were part of a union?!?
If Rathke is accurate, and there's no reason to believe otherwise, not only is the AFL-CIO using 3,000,000 non-dues paying members of a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO to pump up its numbers for the BLS—but many of these "members" did not know they are part of a "union."
Now, one could wonder how people could be part of a union without knowing they're part of a union. Well, one way could be to
sucker sign up people who are interested in things like #OccupyWallSt and offer them a free bumper sticker:
Or, another way to dupe people into becoming a quasi-union member is to put it in very fine print—like the following language at the bottom of a webpage calling for action:
By participating in this campaign you become a member of Working America, a powerful voice for working people.
Of course, in 2008, there was no OccupyWallSt. However, there was a large push toward nationalization of the health care industry and, according to the Washington Times, Working America had set up a website called "Health Care Hustle." However, with the exception of the small reference to the AFL-CIO in the logo, there is no indication that by joining Working America one would also be joining the AFL-CIO.
Given the disingenuousness of today's union bosses, nothing should be all that surprising any more—except, however, to those who may have been duped into being part of the AFL-CIO without their realizing it.
“Socialism has no place in the hearts of those who would secure the fight for freedom and preserve democracy.” Samuel Gompers, American Federation of Labor, 1918
Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com