Ballotpedia completes research into public-sector union membership

Our research project analyzing public-sector union membership, finances, and political spending is now complete. We will be sharing our key findings with you in upcoming editions of Union Station. This week, let’s turn our attention to membership totals.

Methodology

Because it is all but impossible to collect comprehensive data on public-sector union membership, we took a narrowly-tailored approach: identifying the most prominent public-sector unions in each state and tallying their memberships. For more complete information on our methodology, including a discussion of existing research and the various challenges involved in collecting data, please see this article.

Summary of findings

We collected data for 228 unions nationwide, averaging about five in each state. We identified these unions based on media reports, consultation with experts on the ground, and our own research efforts (e.g., identifying unions by amount of political spending). Aggregate membership in these 228 unions is 5,654,109.

  • California ranked first, with 811,483 members belonging to six large unions. This accounts for approximately 14 percent of the nationwide total.
  • The following states rounded out our top five:
    • New York: 808,669 members belonging to five unions — 14 percent of the nationwide total.
    • Illinois: 342,518 members belonging to five unions — six percent of the nationwide total.
    • New Jersey: 324,750 members belonging to four unions — six percent of the nationwide total.
    • Pennsylvania: 324,411 members belonging to five unions — six percent of the nationwide total.
  • Public-sector union membership in these five states is 2,611,831, accounting for about 46 percent of the nationwide total.
  • Meanwhile, membership in the 25 states rounding out the bottom of our list is 664,180, representing about 12 percent of the nationwide total.

For a complete breakdown of our membership data, including links to state-specific data sets, see this article. Next week, we’ll feature an overview of these unions’ finances.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 102 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Union Station map September 13, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart September 13, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Union Station partisan chart September 13, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • California AB314: This bill would require employers to grant employees paid time for certain union activities.
    • Senate adopted amended version Sept. 11 and sent back to Assembly.



About the author

Jerrick Adams

Jerrick Adams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at jerrick.adams@ballotpedia.org

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