Growing numbers of US teachers abandon unions


Growing numbers of US teachers abandon unions

Nancy Hanover

7 December 2017

Union membership among American teachers is in a steady, and in some regions precipitous, decline.

The percentage of US public school teachers participating in unions has dropped by 9 percent since 1999-2000, according to the 2015-2016 National Teacher and Principal Survey. Today, 70 percent of elementary or secondary teachers in public schools are union members, down from 79 percent in 1999-2000.

The decline of teacher unionization rates accelerate during the Obama administration. Source: Schools and Staffing Survey and National Teacher and Principal Survey, 2017.

Overall, workers in education, training and library occupations have a 34.6 percent union membership rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is down from 50 percent in 2013 and 53 percent just a decade ago. As recently as 1984, teachers’ union coverage was 64 percent.

Unprecedented losses of teacher union membership have occurred in: Wisconsin (-58.3 percent), Arizona (-49.6 percent), North Carolina (-47.8 percent), Tennessee (-33.5 percent), Idaho (-28.9 percent), Indiana (-26.5 percent), with many other states recording double-digit losses.

Unionization rates in the private sector, including manufacturing, have fallen for decades, plummeting to a historic low of 6.4 percent in 2016, down from 11.9 percent in 1983 and a peak of 35 percent in 1954. Although the percentage of unionized public-sector workers fell to 34.4 percent last year, it was still five times more than the private sector rate.

Two interrelated processes contributed to the falling unionization rate for teachers. First, the Obama administration accelerated the assault on teachers and public education on behalf of Wall Street hedge funds and…

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