The MacIver Institute churned through the numbers for us. For all of the wailing from unions, they really aren’t that popular when people aren’t forced to be in them.
Since Act 10 and right to work, there have been some interesting developments across Wisconsin. UnionStats.com compiles Census Bureau data and provides a great look at some of the Wisconsin metro areas’ union data.
In the metro area of Madison, a hive of organized labor, union membership has decreased significantly since its peak of 21.1 percent of the workforce in 2010. When the law really started to effect change in contracts in 2012, the rate dropped to 10 percent. The state’s capital city employs many of the state employees affected by the legislation, – many of whom joined the massive, big labor-led protests against Act 10 at the Capitol in late winter 2011.
Despite liberal Madison’s seeming love of unions, only 5.4 percent of Madison area workers were union members in 2016. While there were well over 56,000 members in the Madison metropolitan area in 2010, there were just over 20,000 as of the most recent data.
The Fox Cities area, including Appleton, Oshkosh, and Neenah, also has seen declines, although not as pronounced as Madison. A peak of 16.5 percent in 2010 followed a drop in 2011 to 11.6 percent. Similar results followed the introduction of right-to-work freedoms, with a drop from 11.2 percent to 9.6 percent from 2014 to 2015. Union membership continues to decrease.
The Milwaukee metropolitan area saw a sharp decline in union participation following implementation of the right-to-work law. In 2014, the rate was 10.2 percent before dropping to 7.4 percent in 2015. The rate has since risen to 9.1 percent.
Overall, the state of Wisconsin has seen recent decreases across the board, including declines following both reform measures. The worker exodus from union was more dramatic early on. A 29.1 percent drop in union membership rates in 2015 was succeeded by a modest decline from 8.3 to 8.1 percent in 2016. Close to 355,000 employees were union members in 2010. More than 125,000 Wisconsinites have left their unions since 2010, with only 218,000 members today.