Notes on Labor Data by Forest Gregg
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State Labor Board FOIAs

January 06, 2023

State and local government workers make up about 40% of the total unionized workforce in the United States, but we don’t have access to current data about organizing in these sectors.

For state and local governments, the only official data sources for information about petitions for election, certification elections, and representation certifications are the over 40 state and local labor boards.

Kate Bronfenbrenner has undertaken the daunting task of collecting all that data. Twice. The results of her first data collection are presented in detail in the 1995 report Union organizing in the public sector : an analysis of state and local elections and the second data collection is presented in more summary form in the 2009 article “No Holds Barred—The Intensification of Employer Opposition to Organizing”.

This year, I’m going to try to replicate that work using freedom of information requests. I have some hope that the passage of twenty years since Professor Brofenbrenner’s last collection might mean we get much of the data back in reasonable electronic format, but we will see.

I made my first public records request for Illinois, since it the state where I know the public records law best. I’ll use Illinois’s reponse to refine the request then do a larger batch of requests.

If you have any suggestions for the request language, let me know.

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