IBJNews

Indiana union membership at lowest level in 24 years

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

An aging workforce, shifting political winds and changes in the public sector have driven Indiana's union membership to its lowest recorded levels. But union leaders and experts say organized labor isn't dead yet.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows union members made up 9.1 percent of Indiana's workforce in 2012, down from 22 percent in 1983. It's the first time since the government started tracking individual state data in 1989 that Indiana's union workforce has fallen below 10 percent, the Tribune-Star of Terre Haute reported.

Experts say former Gov. Mitch Daniels' decision in 2005 to end collective bargaining for state workers contributed to the drop, but that the effects of Indiana's new right-to-work law, which bars companies from requiring union membership, haven't been fully felt yet.

Bill Treash, president of the Wabash Valley Central Labor Council, said the biggest drop in union membership has been felt in the public sector. Membership fell after Daniels eliminated collective bargaining for state workers, and now postal employees are struggling to keep their jobs, he said.

"We're just trying to survive until we get some different leadership" in Indianapolis, Treash said.

Though membership has dropped statewide, some areas are holding their own.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 725, which is based in Terre Haute but covers several surrounding counties, has kept membership steady, thanks largely to construction of the Edwardsport Power Station in Knox County, said local president Paul Rupska.

The local has 657 members, and about 35 new members are nearly ready to graduate from the union's apprenticeship program, Rupska said.

"Edwardsport was a really good thing for our area," he said.

He said the union has lost some members, primarily to retirement.

Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois, said it could be a while before the true effects of Indiana's right-to-work law are felt. The law only affects new labor contracts, so many contracts that existed before the law was passed are still in effect, he said.

But he says it's too soon to forecast the death of organized labor and predicts union membership could grow if the nation's economy continues to struggle.

"Typically, when that happens, you create conditions where people are willing to look for collective solutions," he said.

Nationally, 11.3 percent of workers were union members in 2012, down from 20 percent in 1983.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Contradiction
    "Bill Treash, president of the Wabash Valley Central Labor Council, said the biggest drop in union membership has been felt in the public sector. Membership fell after Daniels eliminated collective bargaining for state workers, and now postal employees are struggling to keep their jobs, he said." How exactly does the former governor effect the postal workers, a quasi federal agency?
  • Realization
    This is such great news. Finally the public is realizing that unions are for losers and care nothing of the members but their own criminal fat pockets. Honest and moral citizens that were forced to join or lose their jobs can now feel free of the burden of knowing their money was supporting criminals and baby kiiling liberals and the immoral liberal agenda. The right to work, free of forced labor, is the real American way. Unions have been the driver of a socialistic society where there is no distinction or reward for being exceptional and only punishment and demorilization for overacheavement and above average production. Thank you Mitch Daniels and the Indiana legislation to see fit to give Americans and Indiana Residents a choice. After all, isnt it the liberals who claim to be the party of choice? or is it just for their issues...
  • Sad.....
    This is a sad state of affairs for the middle class of Indiana.....everything we enjoy in terms of work benefits (overtime pay, weekends, vacation, etc.) were won by unions in the past. Now we side on the side of corporations and their blood-sucking owners, to make them richer. Might as well turn back to allowing children work in deplorable conditions.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Of what value is selling alcoholic beverages to State Fair patrons when there are many families with children attending. Is this the message we want to give children attending and participating in the Fair, another venue with alooholic consumption onsite. Is this to promote beer and wine production in the state which are great for the breweries and wineries, but where does this end up 10-15 years from now, lots more drinkers for the alcoholic contents. If these drinks are so important, why not remove the alcohol content and the flavor and drink itself similar to soft drinks would be the novelty, not the alcoholic content and its affects on the drinker. There is no social or material benefit from drinking alcoholic beverages, mostly people want to get slightly or highly drunk.

  2. I did;nt know anyone in Indiana could count- WHY did they NOT SAY just HOW this would be enforced? Because it WON;T! NOW- with that said- BIG BROTHER is ALIVE in this Article-why take any comment if it won't appease YOU PEOPLE- that's NOT American- with EVERYTHING you indicated is NOT said-I can see WHY it say's o Comments- YOU are COMMIES- BIG BROTHER and most likely- voted for Obama!

  3. In Europe there are schools for hairdressing but you don't get a license afterwards but you are required to assist in turkey and Italy its 7 years in japan it's 10 years England 2 so these people who assist know how to do hair their not just anybody and if your an owner and you hire someone with no experience then ur an idiot I've known stylist from different countries with no license but they are professional clean and safe they have no license but they have experience a license doesn't mean anything look at all the bad hairdressers in the world that have fried peoples hair okay but they have a license doesn't make them a professional at their job I think they should get rid of it because stateboard robs stylist and owners and they fine you for the dumbest f***ing things oh ur license isn't displayed 100$ oh ur wearing open toe shoes fine, oh there's ONE HAIR IN UR BRUSH that's a fine it's like really? So I think they need to go or ease up on their regulations because their too strict

  4. Exciting times in Carmel.

  5. Twenty years ago when we moved to Indy I was a stay at home mom and knew not very many people.WIBC was my family and friends for the most part. It was informative, civil, and humerous with Dave the KING. Terri, Jeff, Stever, Big Joe, Matt, Pat and Crumie. I loved them all, and they seemed to love each other. I didn't mind Greg Garrison, but I was not a Rush fan. NOW I can't stand Chicks and all their giggly opinions. Tony Katz is to abrasive that early in the morning(or really any time). I will tune in on Saturday morning for the usual fun and priceless information from Pat and Crumie, mornings it will be 90.1

ADVERTISEMENT