AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka confirmed earlier reports Wednesday, that the AFL-CIO would soon accept non-union people as members, saying organized labor movement doesn’t have a choice if it wants to survive at all.

“Will it dilute us? Look, here’s the way I look at it: What we’ve been doing the last 30 years hasn’t worked real well. We need to do things differently,” Trumka told USA Today. Only 11.3 percent of the US workforce is currently unionized, down from more than 20 percent in 1980. Only 6.6 percent of that is in the private sector, according to the Labor Department.

The new members would include people the AFL-CIO would have little hope of organizing, such as students, retirees and the unemployed. Instead these people would take part in grassroots pro-union activism at the state level.

The announcement is part of a broader effort by Trumka to more closely align the organized labor movement with liberal activist groups. Under Trumka, the AFL-CIO has gone further leftward on immigration and environmental issues — even in cases where its member groups have objected – to cement those ties.

“We’re in conversations with the AFL-CIO about a more formalized partnership,” Sierra Club political director Cathy Duvall told the newspaper.