New Data Shows Decline of Unions In Tennessee

News Release
February 25, 2002
For Immediate Release
Contact: David Denholm
Phone: 703-242-3575
Fax: 703-242-3579

The recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report on Union Membership in 2001 showed American labor unions gaining 17,000 members last year. The small gain reflected a loss of 35,000 members on private payrolls, masked by a gain of 52,000 in the public sector. That report showed unions in Tennessee losing 30,000 members.

A detailed analysis of data from the Current Population Survey, the same information on which the BLS report is based, shows that unions in Tennessee lost closer to 26,500 members, approximately 14,300 on private payrolls and 12,200 on public.

"This sharp decline in union membership in Tennessee is yet another indication that labor unions are selling a product the working people of America are not buying," said David Denholm, president of the Public Service Research Foundation in commenting on the detailed analysis.

"Tennessee's Right to Work law protects workers from being forced to join or support unions and the Tennessee General Assembly has wisely avoided giving monopoly bargaining privileges to public sector unions, except in public education. When workers are free to decide about unionism, unions don't do as well," Denholm concluded.

The Public Service Research Foundation is an independent research and education organization that studies unionism and union influence on public policy. Foundation president David Denholm is a nationally recognized expert on union activity and is a frequent speaker at meetings of civic and business associations.

Changes in Employment and Union Membership 2000 - 2001 National

Employment (Numbers in thousands)


-26- 205+ 179

Union Members (Numbers in thousands)



Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics release of January 17, 2002


Employment (Numbers in thousands)



Union Members (Numbers in thousands)




Source: Current Population Survey

Technical Note: The Current Population Survey has a sample size of 50,000. The data is regarded as very accurate but it is survey data and subject to the statistical and sampling limitations of all survey data.

This report was prepared by the Public Service Research Foundation, Vienna, Virginia.