Press Release

Union Membership Grows by 273,000 Despite Illegal Corporate Union-Busting

Today’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual report shows that union membership grew by 273,000 in 2022 even as giant corporations such as Amazon and Starbucks ratcheted up illegal efforts to intimidate, harass and fire workers who are forming unions. The growth in union members was spurred in large part by workers of color. 

While the report indicates a slight drop in union density from 2021 to 2022, the data don’t capture the surge in worker organizing across every sector, from teaching assistants to baristas to museum workers, construction workers, video game developers and many more. With the resurgence of union organizing and unprecedented federal investment in job creation, the labor movement is poised to grow significantly in the coming years. 

“In 2022, we saw working people rising up despite often illegal opposition from companies that would rather pay union-busting firms millions than give workers a seat at the table,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “The momentum of the moment we are in is clear. Organizing victories are happening in every industry, public and private, and every sector of our economy all across the country. The wave of organizing will continue to gather steam in 2023 and beyond despite broken labor laws that rig the system against workers.” 

These statistics highlight the need for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, which will hold union-busting companies and organizations accountable and give workers the negotiating power they deserve. The AFL-CIO calls on Congress to urgently enact legislation that will ensure that anyone who wants to join a union on the job can do so. 

A report released by the National Labor Relations Board in October of last year found that in fiscal year 2022, union election petitions increased by 53% from the previous year. According to a 2022 Gallup poll, union approval is at its highest level in nearly 60 years, with 71% of Americans supporting labor unions, and studies show that 70% of hourly workers say they would join a union if given the opportunity. 

Contact: Liz Vlock, 202-637-5018