Union membership increases in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, AL (AP) - New government figures show that union membership in Alabama is on the rise despite the economic downturn and the loss of many jobs to out-of-country operations.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the portion of Alabama's work force belonging to unions rose to 10.9 percent in 2009, up from 9.8 percent in 2008.

Across the nation, union membership was stable at 12.3 percent of the work force.

The BLS data shows the number of state residents belonging to unions climbed by 10,000 to 181,000.

At the same time, the number of Alabamians represented by unions but not official members rose to 212,000, or 12 percent.

Union officials say they're somewhat surprised by the figures, since so many jobs have been lost.

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