Union numbers grow slightly
Union membership grew slightly in 2011, a change from steep declines that occurred in the previous two years. According to a January report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total union membership increased last year by 49,000 to 14.8 million workers. The number of unionized private sector workers grew by 110,000, while public sector unions lost a total of 61,000 members. The overall percentage of unionized workers dipped a bit, from 11.9% to 11.8%. At the onset of the Great Recession in 2008, there were 16.1 million union members or 12.4% of the workforce. At 24.1%, New York continues to have the highest rate of unionization of any state and the second largest total number of union members (1.9 million) after California.
Cablevision workers plug into union
Cablevision workers based in Brooklyn made history Jan. 26, when they voted to join Communication Workers of America. The 180-86 vote capped a 13-year campaign and marks the first time that workers at the cable TV giant have successfully unionized. Organizing under the slogan of “Stand up for the Cablevision 99%,” the workers gained extensive media coverage as well as the support of local officials such as Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Sparks from the Jan. 26 victory caught fire elsewhere: 120 Bronx technicians who work for one of Cablevision’s contractors briefly went out on a wildcat strike on Feb. 2, demanding higher pay and union representation after their pay was cut by 30%.