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January 24, 2006

2005: Labor Adds $70 million in Annual Income

The Department of Labor has released its report on union membership in 2005 and the labor movement addeda net of 200,000 members in 2005. Which meant that even with an increased working population, unions held even as a percentage of the workforce.

A small comfort possibly given the low percentage that labor has dropped to, but the point of the headline is for progressives to recognize that, when you are talking about the labor movement, small statistical fluxuations mean a hell of a lot of money.

Adding 200,000 members multipled by a conservative estimate of monthly dues of $30 adds up to $70 million in additional income for unions-- which if used right translates into hiring hundreds of new organizers, researchers and communication specialists to help organize additional workers.

One reason I'm an optimist on labor's revival -- other than knowing how many times labor was declared dead in this country only to rise again even stronger -- is that labor has this inherent virtuous cycle built into its structure, where a tipping point of success inherently leads to more resources and more success. New workers organized help fund the next round of organizing, so success inherently feeds success.

I don't know if 2005 is the quiet tipping point where labor kicks starts a new period of rapid expansion, but $70 million of new income doesn't hurt the chances for that to be true.

Posted by Nathan at January 24, 2006 07:50 AM