Which workers are in a union?

Roughly 16%, around 2.4 million, of California workers are union members. An additional 200,000 workers are represented by unions, despite not being official union members. That means 13 million California workers are not in unions. 

By and large, most Californians work in the private sector and an overwhelming majority of them don’t belong to unions. That’s true across agriculture, retail, financial and business sectors. In fact, low-wage and unskilled jobs, such as in retail and restaurants, have some of the lowest industry unionization rates.

United Farm Workers, a legacy of Chavez, has a mere 6,626 members. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against organizing efforts by invalidating a California rule that allowed union organizers to meet with farmworkers at their place of work. The union pushed a bill that would allow farmworkers to vote at home but the governor vetoed it, citing inconsistencies and procedural flaws.

Meanwhile, jobs in education and healthcare have some of the highest unionization rates, both in the private and public sectors, representing more than 40% of all union jobs. Public administration jobs are the second most unionized within the public sector.

The largest union in the state is the Service Employees International Union, with 17 local branches representing more than 700,000 private and public sector employees in healthcare, education, and government, SEIU Local 1000, is the largest public sector union in the state, representing 96,000 state workers.

-Erika Paz