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Hawaii union membership rises despite national decline

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Hawaii’s unionization rate rose in 2012 even as union membership decline nationally, according to a report released today.

Union members made up 21.6 percent of Hawaii’s workforce last year, up from 21.5 percent in 2001, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The national unionization rate fell from 11.8 percent to 11.3 percent, the lowest level since the 1930s.

The national decline in membership was led by losses among public sector workers in cash-strapped states, cities, counties and towns.

Total union membership in Hawaii rose by 3,000 workers to 116,000. Hawaii’s 2012 unionization rate was the third highest in the country. New York topped the list at 23.2 percent, followed by Alaska at 22.4 percent.

Nationally, unions saw losses in the private sector, even as the economy expanded modestly. The private sector unionization rate fell from 6.9 percent to 6.6 percent.

Unions have steadily lost members since their peak in the 1950s, when about one of every three workers was in a union.

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