Steven M. Swirsky, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in Law360 Employment Authority, in “Union Membership Dips in 2021 as Jobs Return,” by Braden Campbell. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

The long-term decline in the union representation rate among U.S. workers resumed in 2021 following a modest rise in 2020 as coronavirus-related disruptions wracked employers, according to annual data the U.S. Department of Labor released Thursday.

The DOL said 11.6% of U.S. workers were represented by unions in 2021 compared with 12.1% in 2020. At the same time, a rise in employment from about 132.2 million jobs in 2020 to about 136.4 million in 2021 blunted the decline in the number of represented workers, from more than 15.9 million in 2020 to about 15.8 million last year.

Last year's survey reported a rare year-over-year rise in the percentage of workers represented by unions, from 11.6% of the workforce in 2019. But while the percentage of workers represented by unions was the same in 2021 as in 2019, unions shed more than 500,000 workers over this period amid a decline in jobs of about 5 million.

The figures show a continued decline in both the number and percentage of workers represented by unions over the nearly 40 years the DOL's Bureau of Labor Statistics has surveyed union membership. In the survey's first year in 1983, the DOL found 17.7 million workers were union members, or 20.1% of the workforce. …

Steven Swirsky, a member at management-side employment firm Epstein Becker Green, also said that conditions appear ripe for an organizing uptick. This will take time to manifest in the data, he said.

"Don't look at what we're seeing this year, or even next year, but what it's going to tell us in two years, three years, four years," he said. "I think if it's going to happen, that's when you may start to see the data confirming the sense that some of us have."

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