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Union Representation in the Federal Workforce

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In 2009, union membership in the private sector fell, union membership in the public sector grew -- but the percentage of union members in the federal workforce stayed about steady, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to a Friday release, there were about 1 million union members in the federal government in 2009, which is 28 percent of wage and salary workers in the federal government. In 2008, that percentage was 28.1 percent. Even though there were about 11,000 more union members in the federal government in 2009, that increase was outpaced by the overall increase of 52,000 in the federal workforce, according to the BLS.

In the private sector, the membership rate dropped from 7.6 percent in 2008 to 7.2 percent in 2009. In the overall public sector -- including state and local workers as well as federal -- rose from 36.8 percent to 37.4 percent.

Overall, the union membership rate in the country also stayed steady, from 12.4 percent in 2008 to 12.3 percent in 2009.

One quick note: The BLS used two statistics, "Members of Unions" and "Represented by Unions." The second category includes workers who don't report a union affiliation, but whose jobs are covered by a union or employee association contract. In that category, union representation in the federal government rose slightly -- from 33 percent in 2008 to 33.2 percent in 2009.

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