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Union membership grows in Southern California despite recession [Updated]

Cardinal Roger Mahony blesses a sanitation truck in honor of Labor Day. Hundreds attended a Monday mass at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times Despite the recession, union membership in Southern California is on the rise, according to a study released Monday by UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.

The institute’s fifth annual report on the state of organized labor found that, between July 2008 and June 2009 — the peak of the current recession — unions gained almost 25,000 new members in Southern California and more than 131,000 statewide.

The gains follow decades of decline in union membership.

Union members still represent a minority all workers — about 18.3% of all employees in California and 17.5% in the Southern California region that includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Ventura and San Bernardino counties. However, the percentage of union membership has been rising the last two years, both in California and throughout the country.

Nationwide, union members represent about 12.4% of all workers. Across the country, the institute said, average hourly earnings are about $4 more for union workers than for non-union workers.

To mark Labor Day, Cardinal Roger Mahony celebrated a special Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of The Angels. He called on organized labor and employers to work together to put people back to work in lasting jobs.

“It isn’t just a matter of replacing yesterday’s jobs with more of yesterday’s jobs that may have no future,” Mahony told worshippers, including many union activists wearing T-shirts bearing their union affiliation. “That may have no future.”

Elsewhere in Southern California, union workers and their allies gathered for a parade in Wilmington and rally in Banning Park to press for government-funded healthcare benefits.

[Updated, 5 p.m.: Before celebrating Mass, Mahony blessed a sanitation truck, calling the act "a symbol of the dignity of our work." While delivering the blessing, he sprinkled the truck with holy water outside the cathedral.

"Bless this truck, and those who use this truck," he said as workers in union T-shirts watched. "May they travel and use it safely, with care for the safety of others."

The act was meant to symbolize the struggle of working men and women to earn a living wage, healthcare and respect in the workplace, a union official said.

-- Patrick J. McDonnell

Photo: Cardinal Roger Mahony blesses a sanitation truck in honor of Labor Day.  Hundreds attended a Monday mass at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.  Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (4)

85% are government workers who irrationally have been given the right (thank you Jerry Brown, yes, THAT Jerry) to participate in collective bargaining for taxpayer paid wages and benefits which has lead to budget deficits and "cuts" in just about every public agency in the state.

What a strange world we live in that some people think that those who have chosen a career in PUBLIC SERVICE deserve less respect on the job than those in the private sector. They educate our children, pick up our garbage, keep us safe, put out the fires, fix our roads, and take care of our elderly in their own homes instead of costly nursing homes. They deserve our thanks and praise, as well as the RIGHT TO ORGANIZE to demand respect and defend against those like Ann who would gladly have them living in poverty & working in unsafe conditions with no voice whatsoever. If you think taxes are such a bad thing, GO LIVE ON AN ISLAND SOMEWHERE. You're living in a SOCIETY, and we all have to pay for the things we value. I for one am happy to pay a few cents more in taxes for the services we all want and enjoy, as well as to show that we value those who perform them.

The aforementioned Dills Act is a blight on the people and taxpayers of California. And it's not just unionism of government employees that accounts for the vast majority of unionism in the state. It's also government unionism by proxy such as the In Home Health Services that accounts for the growth. That began a decade ago and contrary to this blogger's assertion of decades of decline, greatly increased the number of unionized employees in the state.

Mahony was blessing the truck to get on the good side of latino workers because the church needs money to pay for gigantic mess made by pedophile priests over the last century. It's a BS PR photo op...smoke and mirrors...look over here while I slip my hand in your wallet.

Unions are so powerful, I'd join them too!!! So no big surprise there. Retire with health benefits and the majority of my salary in pension...hell yeah!!! It's like joining a legal "gang" that does the enforcing for you, but that you can never go against or you're out of the family.

James, public workers don't deserve less respect, but we can't afford them anymore; not at the high price of exorbitant wages, benefits, inefficiency, and lack of oversight that protects incompetent workers from being fired.


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