The Norman Transcript

Opinion

January 27, 2013

Union membership on the rise in Oklahoma

NORMAN — Oklahomans tend to lean more conservative each election cycle. Yet, a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says labor union membership is on the rise in the Sooner State.

The Tulsa World reports union membership increased 22 percent in Oklahoma in 2012. Some 7.7 percent of all Oklahoma workers are members of a labor union, and 9.1 percent are represented by a union in some form. That compares to 6.4 percent membership in 2011 and 7.7 percent with some representation.

Nationally, union membership dropped to 11.3 percent in 2012, down slightly from the 11.8 percent in 2011. Union membership in Oklahoma and nationwide topped 33 percent in the 1950s.

Oklahoma union membership dropped to about 5 percent of the work force in the years after right-to-work passed in 2002. The World reports Oklahoma’s employment gains in traditional union fields like construction and manufacturing.

The state has gained nearly 9,000 manufacturing jobs and nearly 3,000 construction jobs since the beginning of 2011. Nationwide, jobs have been reduced or eliminated in the union-heavy Great Lakes and East Coast areas.

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