W.Va. union ranks drop in 2012; reasons unclear - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

W.Va. union ranks drop in 2012; reasons unclear

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- The number of unionized workers in West Virginia dropped by about 9,000 last year and is nearing its lowest level in three decades.

A report this week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows about 84,000 union members had jobs in the state in 2012. That's about 12 percent of the work force.

But that's slightly better than the national rate.

The bureau says that nationally, membership dropped last year from 11.8 percent to 11.3 percent of the work force.

That's the lowest level since the 1930s. The decline happened as cash-strapped state and local governments shed workers and unions faced challenges organizing new members.

The Charleston Daily Mail says West Virginia's number is the second-lowest since 1983. According to unionstats.com, there were 83,000 union members in 1998.

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