The nation’s labor unions suffered sharp declines in membership last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday, led by losses in the public sector as cash-strapped state and local governments laid off workers and — in some cases — limited collective bargaining rights.
The union membership rate fell from 11.8 percent to 11.3 percent of all workers, the lowest level since the 1930s.
Total membership fell by about 400,000 workers to 14.4 million. More than half the loss — about 234,000 — came from government workers including teachers, firefighters and public administrators.
The losses add another blow to a labor movement already stretched thin by fighting efforts in states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan to curb bargaining rights and weaken union clout.