Study: A Union Label More Often on a White Collar

October 20, 2003 ( - Even though many still think of union workers as blue-collar assembly line types, that is less and less true these days.

According to a September report by the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees (DPE), almost a third of new union members are professional, white-collar workers, according to a report in HR Management.

The study, Rising Tide-Professionals: The New Face of America’s Unions, published by the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees (DPE), said almost 66,000 white collar workers voted to join an AFL-CIO-affiliated union in 2002, making it the fastest growing occupational group within the federation.

The result is that nearly half of the current AFL-CIO membership is white collar – larger than any other occupational group.

Other union findings include:

  • In 2002, unions won 222 elections among professional workers, with an average bargaining unit size of 293 employees. Union victories were spread across 39 states, including numerous right-to-work states, as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, DC.
  • The largest number of union election wins (94) occurred in the field of education. Unions successfully organized college faculty, graduate teaching assistants, residence hall counselors, teachers and teacher’s aides, school nurses, administrators and support staff, childcare workers and other professionals.
  • Labor unions won 42 elections in 2002 among health care professionals, including doctors, interns and residents, dentists and hygienists, rehab specialists, LPNs and RNs, medical technicians, paramedics and other health workers.
  • Of the government workers who unionized in 2002, professional employees gave unions 41 of their public sector election victories, including forest rangers, librarians, attorneys and secretaries.