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Indiana union membership grew in 2021, despite a national decline

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Union members rally in northwest Indiana in 2021 for better pay and benefits for health care workers. (Justin Hicks/IPB News)

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The number of Hoosiers who are members of labor unions rose significantly in 2021, reversing a four-year-long decline in membership. That’s even while union membership declined nationally.

Indiana added about 21,000 union members last year, according to an annual report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It means roughly 9 percent of workers in the state now belong to unions. Membership is still significantly lower than before 2012, when so-called "right-to-work" laws went into effect. 

Brett Voorhies, president of the Indiana State AFL-CIO, said pandemic working conditions and a tight labor market renewed interest in labor unions last year.

“I really feel very confident about the future, about us growing and unions becoming more popular,” he said. “I think the millennials are really starting to get it and understand what it’s about as well.”

Nationally, the total number of unionized workers fell by nearly 250,000 workers last year.

Contact reporter Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.

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