Immigrant Union Members: Numbers and Trends
Immigrants often work in traditionally unionized sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing and construction, or in occupations, such as services, that are becoming increasingly organized—yet little is known about their patterns of union representation. This report offers insight into the union affiliation, including membership and non-member coverage, of employed immigrant workers age 16 and over.
Based on 2003 data, the report finds that approximately 11 percent of foreign-born workers are either members of unions or workers covered by a union or employee association contract. Immigrant workers are less likely to have union representation than native workers, 15 percent of whom have union affiliation through membership or coverage. However, the report shows that the number of foreign-born union members has grown significantly, increasing by 24 percent between 1996 and 2003. During the same period, the number of natives with union representation declined by 6 percent.
These trends translate to an increase in the share of foreign-born workers among all workers with union representation.