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AFL-CIO Membership Falls Below 13 Million,
Showing Net Decrease of 167,775 Members

LAS VEGAS--Although affiliates of the AFL-CIO brought about 105,000 new members into the federation in 2004, the pace of organizing did not keep up with membership losses, according to the federation's membership report released during the AFL-CIO Executive Council's winter meeting March 1-3.

The average membership of the unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO in 2004 totaled 12,951,461, a net decrease of 167,775 members compared with 2003. That figure compares with a net loss of 39,439 members reported in the 2003 membership report. The membership figures are based on per capita tax paid by the affiliates to the AFL-CIO.

AFL-CIO Director of Organizing Stewart Acuff said that affiliates organized 375,000 new members, 25,000 fewer than the previous year, but he noted that a lot of organizing staff participated in political mobilization for a large part of 2004. The number of workers organized is higher than the membership figures indicate because many of the newly organized workers are not yet covered by a collective bargaining contract and are not yet paying dues.

Overall, the report showed that 11 national unions had membership increases in 2004, adding a total of 104,914 members, while 32 unions experienced membership losses totaling 272,689. Seventeen unions had no change.

Five unions grew by more than 5,000 members in 2004, according to the federation's figures. Of these, three grew by more than 20,000 members.

The unions with the highest net growth in 2004 included the American Federation of Teachers (36,965), the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (26,127), the Laborers' International Union of North America (23,654), the American Federation of Government Employees (7,072), and the International Association of Fire Fighters (5,000).

AFL-CIO affiliates that showed the largest losses in 2004, according to the report, were the United Automobile Workers (35,650), the United Food and Commercial Workers (32,895), Transportation Communications Union (28,950), the International Association of Machinists (21,720), the United Steelworkers (21,036), the American Postal Workers Union (14,272), and UNITE HERE (12,383).

The membership report shows that the Service Employees International Union, the largest in the AFL-CIO, lost 33,401 members in 2004, leaving the union with 1,354,099 members. SEIU President Andrew Stern said, however, that his union's payments to the AFL-CIO do not reflect its total membership. SEIU paid per capita on 1.4 million members, out of its 1.7 million members, and kept the rest for organizing, he told BNA.

By Michelle Amber
Bureau of National Affairs
BNA Today

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