Building Better Communities

Communities Do Better When Unions Are Stronger

Studies show that states in which more people are union members are states with higher wages, better benefits and better schools. While unions are just one of the factors that affect the quality of living, the pattern indicates that when workers have a voice, everyone in the community benefits—not just union members.

Ten States with Strongest Unions

(based on percentage of the workforce with a union) are:

  • Hawaii
  • New York
  • Alaska
  • New Jersey
  • Washington State
  • Michigan
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • California
  • Connecticut

Ten States with Weakest Unions

(based on percentage of the workforce with a union) are:

  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Georgia
  • Texas
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Utah
  • Mississippi
  • South Dakota

Ten States Where Unions Are Strongest  ----- Ten States Where Unions Are Weakest

Average Hourly Manufacturing Earnings, 2005 (1)
$17.01 -----$14.39

Median Household Income, 2005 (2)
$53,380  ----- $43,204

Percent of Population With No Medical Insurance, 2005 (3) -----
13.4% 17.5%

Workplace Fatalities Per 100,000 Employees, 2004 (4)
4.0 ----- 5.2

Public Education Spending Per Pupil, 2005-2006 (5)
$10,507----- $7,580

Percent of Eligible Voters Who Voted in Presidential Election, 2004 (6)
60.8% -----55.0%

Crimes Per 100,000 Population, 2004 (7)
3,715----- 4,168

Percent of Population in Poverty, 2005 (8)
10.4% -----13.4%


  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
  2. U.S. Census Bureau
  3. U.S. Census Bureau
  4. BLS, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2004
  5. National Education Association, Rankings and Estimates—Rankings of the States 2005 and Estimates of School Statistics, 2006, November 2006.
  6. Fair Vote, the Center for Voting and Democracy. Committee for the Study of the American Electorate.
  7. Kathleen O’Leary Morgan and Scott Morgan, State Rankings 2006, Morgan Quitno Press, 2006.
  8. U.S. Census Bureau


(By Mark Gruenberg, PAI Staff Writer)  New pro-worker rules, announced in late September and the beginning of October by Obama administration agencies, have the potential to benefit millions of workers in coming years. Predictably, radical right House Republicans screamed about them.

The rules would particularly aid low-wage and exploited workers, said Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, whose agency unveiled one key final rule, ordering firms that get federal contracts to establish paid sick and family leave for their employees. Read more »

Volunteer Pipefitters keep heat on for area low-income, elderly homeowners

(Union Advocate) Volunteer members of St. Paul-based Pipefitters Local 455 serviced and repaired furnaces free of charge to disabled, elderly and low-income homeowners in the Twin Cities area Saturday during their annual HEAT’S ON day of service. Read more »

With Lowertown development, union pension fund invests in Building Trades workers

(Union AdvocateThe AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust treated the men and women working to redevelop a property in St. Paul’s Lowertown district to lunch Aug. 31, highlighting the trust’s unique approach to investing union pension funds in union-built construction projects. The development, 333 on the Park, is transforming an eight-story office building, originally constructed in 1913, into an apartment building with 134 market-rate units. Read more »

Unionized Construction Workers in Minnesota Get Back $5.59 for Every Dollar Paid in Dues

In Minnesota, construction workers are productive, high-skilled, and well-paid. Over 30 percent of these workers are members of a union. To maintain and increase membership, trade unions in Minnesota must continually demonstrate how workers benefit from contributing dues. Read more »

Forest Service Conducting Public Input Process about not renewing mining leases

Take action. Share this information. Sign the online petition here. The United States Forest Service (USFS) recently announced that it may try to block the renewal of two federal mining leases for Twin Metals Minnesota in northeast Minnesota and prevent all future mining opportunities in the Rainy River Watershed from moving forward. Read more »

Workers Memorial Mural celebrated at dedication event

See video

On a hot, sunny Memorial Day, May 30, 2016, a crowd of over 400 people gathered at the Workers Memorial Garden on the lawn at the State Capitol to dedicate a Workers Memorial Mural. The installation, a hand-cut stone mosaic created by Twin Cities artist Craig David, can be seen on the south-facing wall of the Workers Memorial Garden. It is a wild mix of colors and shapes that suggest images of workers and working life throughout the history of Minnesota. Read more »

Minnesota Building Trades Endorses Angie Craig for Congress

DFL-endorsed candidate for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District Angie Craig announced today that the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council has endorsed her candidacy for Congress. Read more »

St. Paul Building Trades 25th Annual Golf Tournament is June 8

The tournament will take place at Clifton Hollow, located on Carmichael Road, (Co Road F), about  8 miles south of Hudson, WI.  There will be a shotgun start beginning at 10:00 a.m.  You are invited to form your own foursome or register as an individual. The fee for this event is $100 per person, payable to the St. Read more »

Ken Peterson: Fight for safer workplaces continues in Minnesota, worldwide

Workers Memorial Day is observed each April 28 because President Richard Nixon signed the OSHA law on that date in 1970. He called it the most significant legislation for working people enacted in American history. The new workplace-safety law was the culmination of decades of work by unions and safety advocates to reduce on-the-job deaths and injuries of American workers. Read more »

President McGarvey April 17, 2016 Keynote Address to 2016 Legislative Conference

Values. Issues. Opportunities. Brothers and Sisters... Ladies and Gentlemen... Distinguished Guests... Welcome to the 2016 Legislative Conference for North America's Building Trades Unions. I am proud to say that, because of the good work of all of you in this room...  as well as the vision and dedication of the leaders who join me on this stage here today... we have reason to be more hopeful and excited than ever before about the future economic prospects of the members and families of North America’s Building Trades Unions. Read more »