Which Countries Have The Highest Levels Of Labor Union Membership?
Across most developed nations, labor union membership is getting rarer. Back in 1985, 30% of workers in OECD countries were labor union members and that has now fallen to just 17%. Some of the reasons for the fall in membership include technological and organizational changes, globalization, policy reform and the decline of the manufacturing sector which have all tested the concept’s efficacy.
According to the OECD, 80 million workers in its member states are part of labor unions while an estimated 155 million are covered by collective agreements at some level, whether it be national, regional, sectoral or occupational. The share of workers covered by collective agreements has also contracted in a similar manner to labor union membership, falling from 45% in 1985 to 33% in 2015.
Across OECD countries, labor union density varies considerably, and Iceland has the highest membership rate at 91.8%. The Icelandic Confederation of Labour alone has 104,500 members, accounting for approximately half of the country’s workforce. Sweden also has a high rate of union membership at 67% while just over a quarter of Irish and Canadian workers are part of a union. The United States has a labor union density of 10.6% today compared to 20.1% in 1983.