Unionization rates in the United States have continued to dwindle since the 1980s. Although few Americans are union members, the majority of those surveyed view unions favorably, and the decline of union membership unfavorably. Since 2000, union membership has declined most significantly in transportation and material moving occupations, which includes pilots, truckers, taxi drivers, train conductors, and parking-lot attendants. In 2017, the highest unionization levels were in protective services and education, training, and library occupational groups, and the utilities industry. Despite the overall decline in unionization, the total number of unionized workers has grown in recent years, mostly in the occupational categories of construction and extraction workers, and among health care practitioners and technicians.

Union membership is up 10.6 percent from the same time last year. However, unions have seen fewer certified elections, and won fewer elections as compared to last year. Unions are doing better in representation elections in the services sector, transportation, communication, public utilities, and wholesale trade. However, the win rate in manufacturing is down to 43.1 percent, as compared to 50 percent in the first half of 2017. Unions fared better in states without right-to-work laws than in states with them, but overall statistics in both categories were lower than the first half of 2017.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union’s most recent efforts to organize retail employees at a Target in Huntington Station, NY failed, with an unofficial tally of 118 to 38 rejecting union representation. This is the second effort to organize employees at a Target in New York, which makes it less likely that the UFCW will continue organizing efforts at Target, or other similar retailers. One professor, who specializes in labor markets and public policies, noted it was difficult to determine whether the Target workers’ decision to reject the union was based on a lack of interest or apprehension about unions generally, and that retail employees are particularly difficult to unionize because of the high turnover rate. According to U.S. Census data, about 1.6 percent of retail salespeople were union members last year.

First year wage increases in manufacturing workplaces averaged 3 percent through September 9--just above the 2.9 percent from the last biweekly period. But the first year wage increases dropped slightly in nonmanufacturing workplaces, from 4.3 percent to 4.2 percent, which is likely due to several health care industry contracts with modest first year wage increases. Across all industries, first year wage increases averaged 3.1 percent, as compared to the 2017 average of 2.5 percent.

After a five month organizing campaign led by volunteers, drivers, and mechanics at Apple Bus, located in St. Joseph, Mo., voted in favor of joining the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 955.

Teamsters-represented shuttle drivers for Silicon Valley employers, including Apple, Tesla, and Amazon, ratified a first-time labor agreement with the employers after six months of negotiations. The companies are permitted to use municipal bus stops for pickups so long as they honor a labor peace agreement during unionizing efforts. This agreement came just a few days before San Francisco elected officials were scheduled to hold a hearing regarding whether, based on the lengthy duration of bargaining talks, the companies were violating the labor peace agreement. The contract provides for raises of 5 percent in the first year, 4 percent in the second and third years, and either 5 percent in the final year or the option to open the agreement early. The companies also paid drivers $1,800 of retroactive pay, guaranteed hours, and agreed to provide training premiums and vacation pay based on hours worked.