WASHINGTON - According to a report on Union/Non-Union Trends by the Construction Labor Research Council (CLRC), the percentage of union workers in the construction industry has been steadily declining over the last five years.

The percentage of all workers in the construction industry who are union members was 15.4 percent in 2004. Among craft workers, the percentage of construction industry workers was 18 percent.

While it is difficult to evaluate small year-to-year changes in the rate of unionization, notes CLRC, the portion of jobs held by union workers has never been lower. Viewing the past decade, the percentage of union jobs held steady at nearly 20 percent in the first half of the period. There has been a steady decline in the past five years. Both the rate of unionization and number of union workers were substantially higher in the 1970s and earlier.

The declines are real, but reflect an abnormal mix of types of construction, states CLRC. The heavily non-union residential segment of the industry is exceptionally strong. At the same time, the more heavily unionized industrial sector continues to be weak.

Publication date: 08/08/2005