Professional Union Membership Up

Principals, assistant principals and other school leaders are joining hands with others as professional union membership grew to 6.18 million in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual report on union membership. That is an increase of approximately 28,000 professionals from 2017.

“Professional employees realize they need a union just like blue-collar workers,” said AFSA President Ernest Logan. “No one is immune to the whims of the employer, and having a union with a solid enforceable contract offers protection you can’t get when you try to negotiate directly with an employer.”

“Unions continue to work hard to demonstrate the value of joining together in union, and professionals are responding,” said Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO President Jennifer Dorning. “Professionals see that with a union, they are able to earn higher pay and better benefits, as well as preserve their professional expertise and standards.”

DPE affiliate unions saw numerous professional organizing victories in various parts of the economy in 2018. Digital journalists, graduate employees, college faculty, charter school teachers, health care professionals, nonprofit employees, broadcasters, actors, musicians, utility employees and many other professionals made the choice to join together in union. The reasons for organizing ranged from increasing pay and improving benefits to preserving a collaborative and innovative workplace.

The 2018 professional union membership gains continue the decadelong trend of professionals choosing to unionize. In 2017, unions of professionals gained nearly 90,000 members, and professionals in unions hit a new high of 6.15 million members. Over the last 20 years, unions have seen more than 1 million professional members join their ranks.

“Professionals are growing the labor movement. The more they learn about how coming together in union can improve their lives, the more they want to join together,” said Dorning.