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January 19, 2023

Number of Mass. workers represented by unions grows 3%

Photo | Kevin Koczwara Clark University Graduate Workers Union members on strike at Clark's Main Gate during the first week of October. The union voted to ratify a new contract agreement.

The number of Massachusetts workers represented by unions grew by 3.23% to 447,000 in 2022, according to data released on Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Data Statistics. 

At 13.8%, the state ranks 14th in the nation for percentage of workers represented by unions.  In 2021, that number was 13.6%.

Among New England states, Massachusetts trails Rhode Island and Connecticut.

The growth comes amid high profile 2022 union-related news in Central Massachusetts including the Massachusetts Nurses Association reaching a contract with Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester and its parent company Tenet Healthcare Corp. after a 301-day strike; graduate student workers at Clark University in Worcester and Worcester Polytechnic Institute voting to unionize; and Starbucks locations in Worcester and Gardner unionizing.

Union membership has been growing steadily in Massachusetts from 357,000 in 2020 to 413,000 in 2022. The number of union members is a separate figure than the number of workers represented by unions, since employees in a workplace can be covered by a union contract but not be members of the union.

The percentage of unionized workers has grown steadily, too, as the 12% of workers who were union members in 2020 reached 12.7% in 2022.

The Massachusetts number is ahead of the national percentage of workers who are union members, which is 10.1% and has been decreasing. It is the lowest percentage since the BLS has been tracking the data in 1983 when the national percentage was at 20.1%.

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