Press Release

In Light of BLS Union Density Numbers, AFT President Randi Weingarten Highlights Record Year in Union Organizing, Benefits of Union Membership

For Release:


Oriana Korin

WASHINGTON—Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report on the number of American workers in unions. Union density (the percentage of workers who belong to a union) dipped slightly from 10.1 to 10 percent, but the union movement gained membership overall, including the AFT, which organized 83 new units in 2023. In response, AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement:

“2023 was a transition year for the American economy and for American workers who—despite ongoing hostility from employers and attacks on the right to organize from right-wing extremist governors and legislatures—continue to organize together in their workplaces. In fact, the number of working people joining unions is increasing, with an additional 135,000 people joining unions last year, and public support for unions remains high.

“As record job growth sends union organizing into overdrive, we continue to work to bring a voice on the job to working folks across every sector—from science and technology to healthcare and education. Working people remain clear that union membership lines the pathway to the middle class and a better life for families and communities, which is why young workers, workers of color and professional workers all signed more union cards last year. The difference for them is clear: 900,000 workers in unions got raises last year, and workers in unions made, on average, 11.4 percent more than nonunionized workers. 

“At the AFT, we welcomed 83 new units to our union, a record-breaking year of growth for the educators, healthcare professionals and public employees who agree that life is better in a union, especially one that believes in its DNA that defending our democracy and ensuring everyone has the freedom to thrive are fundamental union values.

“Workers continue to recognize the value union membership provides, and we’ll continue to have their backs—entertainers, autoworkers, food and retail workers, and everyone else who recognizes that the collective power of working people is key to building a good life for everyone, not just the wealthy and powerful. And while extremist politicians continue their attacks on labor, we know that a country where more people have a voice means a stronger economy, safer workplaces and a better life for all.”


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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.