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The Union Difference:
Facts and Statistics

Unions have made a difference and do make a difference. With the economy continuing to benefit corporate America, income inequality is on the rise, and working people need the power of collective action now more than ever. That’s why more and more workers are joining unions.

Union membership rose by more than 265,000 in 1999 – the largest annual increase in 20 years. The number of union members in the United States rose from 16.21 million to 16.48 million last year and the percentage of U.S. workers who belong to unions remained steady at 13.9 percent, reversing a trend of decline.

Much of the membership growth has been in the increase in the number of workers forming unions in recent years as unions have committed greater energy and resources to helping workers gain a voice at work.

Some statistics from the AFL-CIO on the Union Difference:

Nobody ever gave working people anything. We’ve fought for and earned everything we’ve won. In the 21st century, even more than in the 20th, the Labor Movement is the workingmen and women’s best champion in the fight for respect and a fair deal.

Here are a few things that working men and women have forced from the bosses by working together:

  • The 40-hour week
  • The 8-hour day
  • Overtime
  • Sick leave
  • Paid vacations and holidays
  • Employer paid health insurance
  • Pensions
  • Safety and Health protections
  • Grievance procedures for wrongful discharges
  • Fairness in promotions and assignments
  • Higher wages

There are assurances you can’t hang a price tag on: dignity, respect, a real say in what happens on our jobs and better opportunity for our families.


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The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is affiliated with the AFL-CIO. Our membership in this organization precludes us from organizing members already represented by other AFL-CIO affiliates.