Unions representing government workers are gaining

By Tom Raum

Associated Press

Published: Friday, July 4 2014 10:22 a.m. MDT

Updated: Friday, July 4 2014 10:22 a.m. MDT

This March 20, 2013, file photo shows Culinary Union workers demonstrating along Las Vegas Boulevard, protesting against their contract negotiations with Deutsche Bank in Las Vegas.

Julie Jacobson, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON — Unions representing government workers are expanding while organized labor has been shedding private sector members over the past half-century.

A majority of union members today now have ties to a government entity — at the federal, state or local levels.

Roughly 1-in-3 public sector workers is a union member, compared with about 1-in-15 for the private sector workforce last year. That's according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Overall, 11.3 percent of U.S. wage and salary workers are unionized, down from a peak of 35 percent during the mid-1950s.

The typical union worker now is more likely to be an educator, office worker or food or service industry employee rather than a construction worker, autoworker, electrician or mechanic. Far more women than men are among the union-label ranks.

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