Why Did Right-to-Work Tennessee have the Biggest Jump in Union Workers in 2022?

Out of all 50 states, union membership has grown the fastest in the past two years in this right to work state:


Government employees, building trades, and autoworkers union membership grew in Tennessee by more than 39% from the pandemic low in 2020. But that’s not the only place membership has grown.

Despite its rapid union membership growth, only 5.5% of all workers across Tennessee are in a union.

By comparison, over 20% of employees in Hawaii and New York are in a union.

Union growth in Tennessee is occurring even though Tennessee is a right-to-work state where employees have the option to not join a union at their workplace.

I’m not surprised by this trend.

Current unionization activities are being driven by younger employees in traditionally non-union industries like hospitality, the arts, and entertainment.

And Tennessee – especially Nashville – has all of that.


Matt Austin is a nationwide management labor lawyer. Labor laws govern virtually all private-sector employees regardless of union membership. Proactive management of labor relations is critical to maintaining flexibility and increasing profit.

Matt also runs Austin Legal’s HR Legal Compliance Program that, for a small monthly fee, ensures HR decisions are protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Matt’s experience is deeply rooted in helping manage many aspects of his clients’ businesses. To effectively manage labor relations, he must also manage budgets, forecasts, new growth areas, and projected market corrections. High emotional intelligence is also critical to negotiating union contracts and to properly advise HR Legal Compliance members through the nuances of the law, its application to their companies, and how it will be received by employees.

You can reach Matt via email at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com.