Protesters listen to a rally as sleet falls outside the state Capitol Monday, Feb. 21, 2011, in Madison, Wis. Opponents to Governor Scott Walker's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers are taking part in …
Copyright Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The nation's labor unions suffered sharp declines in membership last year, led by losses among public sector workers in cash-strapped states, cities, counties and towns.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the unionization rate fell from 11.8 percent to 11.3 percent of all workers, the lowest level since the 1930s.
Total union membership fell by about 400,000 workers to 14.4 million. Teachers unions were among the hardest hit, with the ranks of public school teachers and educators falling sharply.
Unions also 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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After secretive talks, key senators expressed optimism Wednesday night that they were closing in on a bipartisan agreement to toughen the border security requirements in immigration legislation that also offers a path to citizenship to millions living in the country illegally.
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