The State of Indiana’s Unions in 2016

This report is the second in a five-part series on the “State of the Unions” for Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. All five reports will be available at this link over the next month.


A new study released today finds that organized labor still plays a considerable role in Indiana’s economy, despite a decline of approximately 52,000 union members over the past decade.

The study, The State of the Unions 2016: A Profile of Unionization in Indianapolis, in Indiana, and in America [PDF] was conducted by researchers at the Midwest Economic Policy Institute, and the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Since 2006, Indiana’s union membership rate has declined by 2.0 percentage points, from 12.0% to 10.0%. As a result, there are nearly 126 fewer labor unions and similar worker organizations in Indiana than there were ten years ago.

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Indiana’s “right-to-work” law has contributed to lower union membership. After the policy was implemented, union membership fell from 11.2% in 2011 to 9.1% in 2012. An initial Lake Superior Court ruling by Judge Sedia struck down the law and union membership rebounded to 10.7% in 2014. However, a decision by the Indiana Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s ruling, leading to the subsequent decline in union membership to 10.0%.
As of 2015:

  • Veterans are among the most-unionized socioeconomic groups (20.1%);
  • The most-unionized workers by educational attainment are those with master’s degrees (14.2%);
  • Public sector unionization (27.4%) is nearly four times as high as private sector unionization (7.5%).

Efforts to weaken the labor movement in Indiana have disproportionately impacted these workers.

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The report also finds that labor unions raise worker wages by 15.1% on average. Indiana’s “union wage premium” is the 2nd-highest in the nation and higher than all bordering states. The union wage effect is greatest for the middle 50 percent of workers, ranging from a 15.3% to a 17.9% increase in worker earnings. The impact is also higher for non-white minority workers (28.9%) than for white, non-Latino workers (13.1%).

“Labor unions lift hourly wages, especially for middle-class Hoosiers,” said Frank Manzo IV, Policy Director of the Midwest Economic Policy Institute. “The economic data shows that unions help reduce income inequality in Indiana.”


The State of the Unions 2016: A Profile of Unionization in Indianapolis, in Indiana, and in America can be found here.

For more:

  • (2016) The State of the Unions 2016: A Profile of Unionization in Chicago, in Illinois, and in America can be found here.
  • (2015) From ’15 to $15: The State of the Unions in California and its Key Cities in 2015California report.
  • (2015) The State of the Unions 2015: A Profile of Organized Labor in New York City, New York State, and the United StatesNew York report.

Visit ILEPI at www.illinoisepi.org, like ILEPI on Facebook, and follow ILEPI on Twitter @IllinoisEPI.

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