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Right to Work Mentality

Although Ohio has often been perceived as a heavily union-organized state, trends indicate that is no longer true. Over the past 20 years, Ohio has seen a substantial drop in overall union membership, as well as a dramatic shift in unionization from the private sector, and particularly private sector manufacturing, to the public sector. In 1989, 987,000 Ohio workers belonged to a union. By 2009 this figure had fallen more than 30 percent (302,000 workers) to 685,000, of which just 8.9 percent of private sector workers were union members.

In the past, Ohio’s concentration of private sector union membership was located in its urban markets centered in the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, and Akron areas. The west central Ohio region has always been an exception. The presence of unions, union membership, and union activity has been less in the region when compared to urban centers in Ohio and the Midwest.

Study data from a 2011 project indicates only 3.6 percent of the region’s total civilian labor force (348,200), are private sector union members. Download a full report of this project here.