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Union Membership Declines In Missouri

Marshall Griffin
St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri unions have seen a significant decline in membership, this is according to a new report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And the trend isn’t limited to Missouri. Unions nationwide are declining, with a steady drop rate since 1989. The reasons for this decline are many, but according to Professor of Economics at Southeast Missouri State University Rebecca Summary, the main issue is globalization.

“It’s very hard for highly skilled workers to compete with very inexpensive workers in southeast Asia, China, places like that,” Summary said.

Only 8% of Missouri’s total workforce are in unions now. That’s down from 10% just one year ago. Union membership has declined steadily since it’s peak in 1989 at 15%.

Summary says this is nothing new. Unions have been on the decline for decades, though she says  they still have a place.

“I don’t really think unions will ever disappear,” Summary said. “My opinion is that once workers begin to see what happens to them in, for example, a Right to Work state, I think unions will be able to make a comeback.”

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