Chamber members hear about unions

U.S. Chamber of Commerce representative Ted Phlegar spoke with Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce members Tuesday morning about new trends in labor law. Phlegar is the senior counselor for the Workforce Freedom Initiative.

“Organized labor is threatened by long-term union membership losses,” Phlegar said. “In the 1950s, one in three workers in the United States belonged to a labor union. Membership has steadily declined to just over 11 percent in 2012.”

Phlegar said private sector union membership has experienced the declines.

“Unions spent $450 million on political activity in 2008,” Phlegar said. “In 2012, unions reportedly spent $400 million.”

Phlegar also said the AFL-CIO made 80 million phone calls, knocked on 14 million doors, sent more than 750 million pieces of political mail and registered 450,000 new union members to vote in 2012.

Finally, Phlegar spoke about worker centers that he said launched protests on behalf of unions.

He said they have staged strikes at fast food restaurants in New York and are intended to promote full-fledged unionization of target employers.

Phlegar asked attendees to do further research to educate themselves on the issues. Two websites he suggests are and Phlegar also suggests contacting senators and representatives’ offices, submitting letters to Congress and newspaper editors, and he advocates staying involved with state and local chambers, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.