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Maine Unions Report Uptick In Membership in 2020

About 13,000 more Mainers were in unions in 2020 than in the previous year.

That’s according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which show the rate of union membership in the state has increased by about 3% in the last year.

Cynthia Phinney, president of the AFL-CIO of Maine, says this is due to more people in unionized workplaces choosing to join the union and increased hiring in “essential” sectors, which have a higher rate of unionization.

She also attributes the increase to the fact that many job losses have been in nonunion workplaces.

“A lot of Mainers as we know have lost their jobs, especially in the nonunion jobs, especially in the pandemic, so this would affect the percentage of nonunion jobs,” Phinney says.

She says several new Maine workplaces have also been organizing in the past year, including Planned Parenthood, the ACLU of Maine, the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program and the Portland Museum of Art.

Union membership rates across the U.S. grew by half a percentage point in 2020, to 10.8%. Union membership in the U.S. has declined overall from a rate of more than 20% in the early 1980s.

Nora is originally from the Boston area but has lived in Chicago, Michigan, New York City and at the northern tip of New York state. Nora began working in public radio at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor and has been an on-air host, a reporter, a digital editor, a producer, and, when they let her, played records.