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


The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) today announced $33 million of pension capital funding for construction of Five 15 on the Park, a 259-unit apartment complex in Minneapolis. The $52 million project is expected to generate approximately 260 union construction jobs at a time when construction unemployment remains high. Read more »

Workers Memorial Day, April 25, 2014

We will observe Workers Memorial Day at noon on Friday, April 25 at the Workers Memorial Garden on the Capitol grounds, 12th & Cedar Street. So that we may honor them, please provide to the St. Paul BT Council the names of your members who have passed away from work related injuries or illness since last year’s memorial service. Please send us the information by April 17, including the age, date and cause of death. Office phone: 651-287-9999. 

Pipelines are necessary, safe and beneficial

A pipeline to jobs, economic and energy security, by Harry Melander and William Blazar

Beginning in 1973, headlines announcing the results of a meeting of OPEC ministers often sent shockwaves through the American economy. From the founding of the nation until that time, the United States had never been beholden to other nations in determining our economic well-being. Read more »

Trades back measure putting teeth into bidding requirements

Public construction projects in Minnesota are awarded to the “lowest responsible bidder,” according to state law. But how do public agencies distinguish which bidders are responsible?

It’s a question the state’s Building Trades unions want answered during the 2014 legislative session. Read more »


With the federal government mired in partisan warfare, U.S. building trades unions are showing the way in rebuilding the country, while also reaching out – and putting to work – the women and minorities who will be the future of the construction industry, two top politicians say. Read more »

Construct Tomorrow program at the Fairview Area Learning Center in Roseville

On Tuesday, March 4th, the Construct Tomorrow program provided hands-on trades experiences for over 200 students at the Fairview Area Learning Center in Roseville.  Students had an opportunity to wire circuits, trowel cement, cut and patch carpet.  The iron workers taught students how to walk an I-beam and practice tying re-bar.  Other stations included caulking demonstrations and learning how to build a stone archway.  At the end of the event, those students that express an interest in the trades are encouraged to fill out a survey to learn more information about constr Read more »

Video: Myth and reality about the minimum wage and its effect on the workforce

See video

Opponents often say a higher minimum wage is only important to the small segment of the workforce that earns the lowest wages. In reality, the minimum wage is fundamental to maintaining our quality of life, much like overtime, safety, prevailing wage and other workplace standards.

When the minimum wage is too low, all wages are at risk.  Read more »

IBEW’s Holiday Lights raised record amount for local charities in 2013

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and King of Kings Lutheran Church of Woodbury on February 19 announced record fundraising totals from the organizations' Holiday Lights in the Park display in 2013.

Proceeds from the nightly holiday-light display in St. Paul's Phalen Park, as well as a related holiday concert and CD sales, totaled $86,000 last year, the highest amount in the event's six-year run. Read more »

IBEW Father and Daughter’s Long Journey to Sochi Short Track

Update: Emily Scott finished second in her 1,000-meter heat Tuesday morning in Sochi and qualified to advance to Fridays quarterfinals. On Saturday, Scott made it to the finals in the 1,500 meters, when another skater crashed and wiped out Scott who was able to get back in the race, but finished in fifth place. She failed to qualify for the 500 meters last week. Read more »

Commentary- PolyMet proposal: The case in favor

The following commentary by Harry Melander and David Olson appeared in the January 24, 2014 edition of the Minneapolis StarTribune.

During his brief public comment during a hearing on Jan. 16 in Duluth, state Sen. David Tomassoni summed up Minnesotans’ frustration with opponents of copper-nickel mining: When is enough, enough? Read more »