The number of New Jersey workers who belong to a union fell to the lowest rate on record in 2022, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report released on January 30. Last year, 14.9 percent of wage and salary workers in the state were union members, a decline from 16.2 percent in 2021.
The only other time New Jersey’s union membership rate dropped to an all-time low of 14.9 percent was in 2018. Union participation peaked in 1991 with an average of 24.3 percent of workers. The state’s union membership rate, however, is still higher than the nationwide rate of 10.1 percent and has consistently remained above the national average since 1989. In 2022, New Jersey saw various organizing efforts, including by Amazon and Starbucks workers.
Among other states, New Jersey had the eighth-highest percentage of union membership in 2022. Hawaii topped the list that year with 21.9 percent of workers belonging to a union, while South Carolina had the lowest rate with 1.7 percent. South Carolina is known as a right-to-work state in which laws permit workers to opt out of union membership even if their workplace at large has union representation.
How Does Union Membership Nationwide Compare?
The share of U.S. workers nationwide who belong to a union decreased to 10.1 in 2022 from 10.3 percent in 2021. The figure is the lowest on record since the BLS first started collecting such data almost four decades ago. The agency’s report attributed the decline to a disproportionately substantial increase in the number of wage and salary workers compared with the rise in union membership.
Nationwide, union membership among wage and salary workers totaled 14.3 million in 2022. Another 1.7 million employees had not joined unions but were employed in places covered by a union contract. Union membership across the country decreased significantly overall after a surge in unionization rates at the onset of the pandemic in 2020.
In 2022, New Jersey had 619,000 union members. Additionally, 47,000 workers who did not have union memberships worked in jobs that had union representation or were covered by an employee association.
New Jersey Worker Rights After a Work Injury
New Jersey workers have the right to organize and become union members. Employers cannot stop employees from participating in unions. The state has traditionally had high rates of unionization among teachers, construction workers, and firefighters. In the aftermath of the pandemic, there have also been more organizing efforts among workers in the service industry.
Workers in the state also have the right to pursue workers’ compensation when they suffer an on-the-job injury, regardless of whether they are part of a union or not. The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act applies to all public and private employers in the state, except certain employers in the railroad and maritime industries.
Because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, injured workers can obtain benefits regardless of who or what caused their accident. The injuries, however, must be linked to the worker’s employment. Workers’ compensation benefits can ease the financial stress that employees may experience after a work injury or illness. The benefits cover medical expenses and disability payments.
The New Jersey workers’ compensation claims process is complex, and insurance companies are known to make things difficult for workers trying to get the benefits they are entitled to recover. Additionally, an employer may argue that a worker’s injury or condition occurred outside of the workplace and is not linked to their employment.
An experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney can guide you through the claims process. A lawyer can also help you navigate collective bargaining agreements and determine how your union membership interacts with your workers’ compensation case.
Speak with an Experienced New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
The compassionate team of advocates at Petrillo & Goldberg is dedicated to helping New Jersey employees obtain the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve. We have experience achieving successful outcomes in workers’ compensation cases of all kinds. Our New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys skillfully handle communications with insurance companies so that workers can focus on healing and moving forward after a workplace injury.