January 25, 2013

Union-Represented AP Reporter Bemoans Decline in Union Membership, Admits Economy Only Shows ‘Signs of Improving’

File this under “careful what you wish for.”

In 2012, with a Democrat in the White House, union membership declined, not only as a percentage of the workforce, but in absolute numbers. Even though the related report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the number of employed wage and salaried workers increased by almost 2.4 million, union membership fell by just under 400,000. Union membership is down by over 1.7 million since 2008, and fell by 961,000 during the past three years of supposed economic recovery. These results aren’t sitting well with Sam Hananel at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, whose reporters are represented by the Occupy movement-supporting News Media Guild. Excerpts from the AP reporter’s Wednesday report follow the jump.

Hananel even echoed an underappreciated admission President Obama made in his second inaugural address, namely that “An economic recovery has begun” — not that it’s been occurring at a slow pace for several years, but that it has only just begun (bolds are mine):

UNIONS SUFFER SHARP DECLINE IN MEMBERSHIP

Union membership plummeted last year to the lowest level since the 1930s as cash-strapped state and local governments shed workers and unions had difficulty organizing new members in the private sector despite signs of an improving economy.

Four years into Obama’s presidency, after at least 3-1/2 years of his colleagues telling us day after day, week after week, month after month, that things are getting better, Hananel tells us that the best anyone can say about the economy after four years of stimulus, trillion-dollar deficits, even more in federal government borrowing, and near-zero interest rates is that there are only “signs of an improving economy.”

Continuing:

Government figures released Wednesday showed union membership declined from 11.8 percent to 11.3 percent of the workforce, another blow to a labor movement already stretched thin by battles in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and other states to curb bargaining rights and weaken union clout.

Overall membership fell by about 400,000 workers to 14.4 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than half the loss, about 234,000, came from government workers, including teachers, firefighters and public administrators.

But unions also saw losses in the private sector even as the economy created 1.8 million new jobs in 2012. That membership rate fell from 6.9 percent to 6.6 percent, a troubling sign for the future of organized labor, as job growth generally has taken place at nonunion companies.

“To employers, it’s going to look like the labor movement is ready for a knockout punch,” said Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. “You can’t be a movement and get smaller.”

Hananel, as would be expected, didn’t report any comments from employers or their representatives to counter Prof. Clark, whose perspective, though usually not as intemperate as the comment he made to Hananel (who on the employer side believes what the professor thinks they believe?), is clearly from the left.

Hananel later noted that “Unions spent more than $400 million during the 2012 election cycle to support President Barack Obama’s re-election, keep a Democratic majority in the Senate and aid other state and local candidates.”

Nice of you guys to finally report that fact now that the election is over, Sam.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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