ABC: Record 88% of the US construction industry workforce does not belong to a union

Quarry Products / January 20, 2023
By Guy Woodford
ABC has spoken out over the low union membership among American construction workers revealed by the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labour Statistics' annual Union Members Summary

The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) says low union membership among American construction workers revealed by the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics' annual Union Members Summary means the Biden administration should "not continue to advance controversial policies" specific to the construction industry that requires its workers to join a union and/or pay union dues.

According to 2022 data, the percentage of construction industry wage and salary workers belonging to unions dropped to a record low of 11.7%, a decline from 12.6% in 2021.

Ben Brubeck
Ben Brubeck, ABC VP of Regulatory, Labor & State Affairs. Pic: ABC

ABC analysis finds that a historically high 88.3% of the US construction industry workforce––7.652 million people––did not belong to a union in 2022. Additionally, ABC found that there has never been a smaller percentage of union members in the construction industry since the BLS began tracking this data in 1973.

"Year-over-year construction industry union membership dropped despite robust overall job growth, suggesting that construction industry workers are not enthusiastic about joining a union when given a choice to do so," said ABC Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck.

"This illustrates why the Biden administration should not continue to advance controversial policies specific to the construction industry that require its workers to join a union and/or pay union dues, as well as contribute to union benefits plans, as a condition of employment on a taxpayer-funded federal construction project."

"For example, President Biden's Executive Order 14063, which requires federal agencies to mandate anti-competitive and wasteful project labor agreements on federal construction projects of $35 million or more—and other policies promoting PLAs on federally assisted state and local government infrastructure projects—are expected to result in more infrastructure jobs for unionised contractors and more jobs for union members at the expense of taxpayers and the 88.3% of the US construction workforce that freely chooses not to join a union," said Brubeck. "In contrast to the past two years, President Biden would be better off creating policies that invite all of America's construction workforce to compete for infrastructure work on a level playing field, regardless of labour affiliation."

Research has found that PLA mandates increase the cost of construction by 12% and 20% and result in the confiscation of 34% of a nonunion construction worker's compensation package unless they join a union and become vested in union plans.

"Instead of encouraging unions to improve their product and value proposition to employees, contractors and developers, President Biden continues to implement administrative and regulatory actions favouring unions––and push legislation such as the PRO Act––in an effort to increase union membership, which is in historical decline," said Brubeck.

Construction unions lost 5,000 members over the past year, decreasing from 1.024 million members in 2021 to 1.019 million members in 2022. That's despite the fact that the construction industry grew by 514,000 workers, from 8.157 million in 2021 to 8.671 million in 2022.



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