The decline of union memberships in California
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Unions and union money will play a major rule in the California primary in determining which two candidates will advance to a runoff in November. The unions will spend hundreds of millions of dollars this year on politics, and about 90 percent will be spent to elect Democrats.
The irony is that the number of American workers in labor unions hit a record low in 2019, but there was a slight increase in government employees and they happen to be the dominant political force in state and local governments in California, representing about 35 percent of the workforce, while private sector unions represent only about 7 percent.
How did public sector unions in California become such a political force when union membership, for decades was in decline nationally?
The large manufacturing firms laid off workers as they fell victim to globalization, outsourcing and deregulation. Small business expanded, but they were difficult to unionize because the pay and benefits were not as lucrative. So big labor began to shrink.
The unions then turned their attention to organize government workers by increasing their influence in Sacramento.