The State Worker

California’s union-represented workforce grew slightly in 2014

California's unionized workforce grew 3 percent last year, according to new federal labor data that also show more employees in both the government and private sectors nationwide worked under labor-negotiated terms.

Of California’s 15.13 million workers, 2.65 million were represented by a labor union in 2014, about 73,000 more than the year before. The figures include dues-paying union members and non-members whose jobs were covered by a labor agreement.

California was among half of the states that saw its unionized workforce grow last year. Arkansas led with a 36 percent jump, but the number of workers there was less than one-tenth of California's.

At the other end of the spectrum, labor representation plummeted by one-third in North Carolina despite a slight gain in the size of its 4 million-employee workforce. The state does not require union membership as a condition of employment and just 1.9 percent of employees there are covered by a labor contract.

Nationwide, the number of unionized workers grew to 16.15 million, or 12 percent of all employed Americans. That was up from 16.03 million in 2013.

Unions represented roughly 40 of every 100 local, state and federal workers, compared to just over 7 in 100 private-sector workers. Public-unions grew half a percentage point while their private-sector counterparts shrank by one-tenth of one percent.

The national figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics do not break out public- and private-sector union representation by state.

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.