Connect with us


Latest data on the Union Difference: 15.9% higher wages

Washington remains the 3rd most unionized state in the nation


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 23, 2024) — Union membership in Washington state slipped in 2023, but the state remains the third most unionized in the country, according to the annual estimates released today by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Meanwhile, union members earned 15.9% more than their nonunion counterparts on average last year.

According to the latest BLS report, Washington had 576,000 union members in 2023, representing 16.5 percent of the state’s workforce. Only New York and Hawaii had a higher percentage of union members in their workforces than Washington. For 2022, the BLS estimated Washington had 615,000 union members and 18 percent union density.

Nationally, union membership increased by 139,000 to more than 14.4 million workers, but union density edged lower from 10.1 to 10.0 percent, as job gains slightly outpaced union organizing gains.

April Sims, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, said the latest BLS numbers demonstrate the need for labor law reform that restores the freedom to form unions:

“Today in Washington state and across the country, union organizing, worker activism, and public support of unions are all higher than they’ve been in our lifetimes. The fact that these latest numbers don’t reflect that enthusiasm should be a concern for all Americans. More than two-thirds of us support unions, including nearly 90% of young Americans. Why is it that two-thirds of us say we would join a union right now if we could — but we can’t?

“The answer is that there are too many obstacles to joining together in unions. Corporate union-busters spend billions to deny workers their rights. Anti-worker politicians and Supreme Court justices continue to create roadblocks. They do this because the rich and powerful know that unions work. They raise workers’ wages, improve benefits and working conditions, and they give us a strong collective voice so we can stand up to powerful interests.

“Life is truly better in a union. That’s why we need to demand — in the streets with our voices and at the ballot box with our votes – that our freedom to join together in unions is restored.”

According to a 2023 Gallup poll, labor unions continue to enjoy high support in the U.S., with 67% of Americans approving of them, similar to the elevated level seen in recent years after more than a decade of rising support. Meanwhile, studies show that 70 percent of hourly workers say they would join a union if given the opportunity.

A report released in October 2023 by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that, after an astounding 53 percent increase in union election petitions in FY 2022, the number of petitions for union elections continued to increase in FY 2023.

Union membership once again meant higher wages in 2023. Median weekly earnings for union members was $1,263 last year, according to the BLS report, compared to $1,090 per week for non-union workers. In other words, union members earned 15.9 percent higher wages. That’s the Union Difference.

JOIN TOGETHER! — If you don’t have a union at your job, learn how to join together with your co-workers and get higher wages, better benefits and respect on the job. Click here to get started.

► Today from the AFL-CIO — Union membership grew by 139,000 in 2023, thanks to worker wins — The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report on union density today and it shows that union membership grew by 139,000 in 2023, although union density remained flat. AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said:

“The labor movement is more focused and committed than ever on ensuring that every worker who wants a union has a fair shot at joining one. Organizing is happening at a rate not seen in generations, and new federal investments by the Biden administration in emerging sectors of the economy creates more opportunity for workers to attain good union jobs. The AFL-CIO’s Center for Transformational Organizing has become a hub for multiunion organizing strategy and investment in the clean energy and technology sectors as new jobs emerge over the next several years catalyzed by these federal funds. Working people are on the rise, and the progress we’re seeing now is just the beginning.”

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!