The Value of a Union

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The Purpose and Value of Unions

"Why Unions?" | Canadian Labour Congress | http://canadianlabour.ca/why-unions

The labour movement was created by people standing up together for fair wages, safe workplaces and decent work hours. Many of the benefits and standards won for our members are enjoyed by all workers today, such as minimum wage, health and safety regulations, and overtime.

Having a union on your side makes your job and your workplace safer and fairer. You get paid better and are more likely to have benefits that help you balance work with life at home. Your health and ability to do your job become important and your right to fair treatment gets enforced.

"The Value of Unions" | United Food and Commercial Workers Union - Local 791 | http://www.ufcw791.org/local_791_webpage_029.htm

Paul F. Clark | Professor, Dep't of Labor Studies & Industrial Relations | Penn State University

Many people today believe that the labor movement has outlived its usefulness — that it had a valuable role to play in the first half of the 20th century but is now irrelevant, an anachronism.

Unions exist to serve as a countervailing force against employers — whether those employers are government agencies, corporations or not-for-profits.  Unions participate through the collective bargaining process in decisions regarding compensation and benefits, working conditions and job security. Almost always, the result is higher pay and better benefits, safer working conditions and greater job security for their members, just as it has been throughout the history of the labor movement.

"What have unions done for us?" | CNN.com | http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/04/opinion/brazile-unions/
Donna Brazile | September 4, 2012

Unions have long been part of our nation's history, fighting for better pay, safer working conditions, health care and retirement benefits, education and civic participation. Unions have brought diverse voices together, and their struggles have elevated the working conditions, the standard of living and the recognition of not just their members, but of all who labor.

Unions played a major role in ending the sweatshops and child labor so common at the beginning of the 20th century. The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, or ILGWU, was one of the first unions to have a primarily female membership. And in the aftermath of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, in which more than 100 mostly young immigrant women were killed, the ILGWU was at the forefront of reforming working conditions and pushing for comprehensive safety and workers' compensation laws.

Video | "Are Unions Useful Anymore?" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCTEqsSGk_s
One of the submissions for the Canadian Labour Congress' 2013 One Minute Message Video contest.

"DEAR AMERICA: You Should Be Mad As Hell About This" | ​Business Insider | http://www.businessinsider.com/dear-america-you-should-be-mad-as-hell-about-this-charts-2012-6?op=1
Henry Blodgett | July 7, 2012

America just isn't working right now.

It's not just Americans who aren't working. It's America itself, a country whose economy once worked for almost everyone, not just the rich.

In the old America, if you worked hard, you had a good chance of moving up.

In the old America, the fruits of people's labors accrued to the whole country, not just the top.

In the old America, there was a strong middle class, and their immense collective purchasing power drove the economy for decades.

No longer. 

"I've Always Hated The Idea Of Labor Unions, But It May Be Time To Reconsider" | Business Insider | http://www.businessinsider.com/we-may-need-labor-unions-after-all-2012-12
Henry Blodgett | December 2, 2012

What's wrong is that an obsession with a narrow view of "shareholder value" has led companies to put "maximizing current earnings growth" ahead of another critical priority in a healthy economy: Investing in human and physical capital and future growth.

If American companies were willing to trade off some of their current earnings growth to make investments in wage increases and hiring, American workers would have more money to spend. And as American workers spent more money, the economy would begin to grow more quickly again. And the growing economy would help the companies begin to grow more quickly again. And so on.

But, instead, U.S. companies have become so obsessed with generating near-term profits that they're  paying their employees less, cutting capital investments, and under-investing in future growth. 

"The Labor Movement" | History.com | http://www.history.com/topics/labor

The labor movement in the United States grew out of the need to protect the common interest of workers. For those in the industrial sector, organized labor unions fought for better wages, reasonable hours and safer working conditions. The labor movement led efforts to stop child labor, give health benefits and provide aid to workers who were injured or retired.

 

CENTER for AMERICAN PROGRESS

The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan policy institute that is dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans, through bold, progressive ideas, as well as strong leadership and concerted action. Our aim is not just to change the conversation, but to change the country.

Web Links Page | Labor & Workhttps://www.americanprogress.org/issues/labor/view/

"Bargaining for the American Dream"https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/report/2015/09/09/120558/bargaining-for-the-american-dream/
Richard Freeman, Eunice Han, David Madland, Brendan Duke | Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The research of Chetty and his fellow authors also show that five factors have the strongest geographical relationship—positive or negative—with mobility: single motherhood rates, income inequality, high school dropout rates, social capital, and segregation.

This report examines the relationship between mobility and another variable that Chetty and his co-authors did not consider: union membership. The analysis in this report begins on the area level using the same methodological approach as Chetty and his co-authors for their five factors. But the analysis then goes beyond this area-level analysis, using another dataset that matches parents with children that allows for the comparison of outcomes for children who grew up in otherwise similar union and nonunion households. This individual-level analysis is more appropriate than the area-level analysis for examining whether parents’ union membership actually influences mobility.

 

ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE

EPI is an independent, nonprofit think tank that researches the impact of economic trends and policies on working people in the United States. EPI’s research helps policymakers, opinion leaders, advocates, journalists, and the public understand the bread-and-butter issues affecting ordinary Americans.

Raising America's Payhttp://www.epi.org/pay/

Right now there is much debate over what to do about rising income inequality in America. These discussions too often miss that the key to shared prosperity is to foster wage growth. Pay of the vast majority of Americans has been stuck for decades, even though productivity and earnings at the top are escalating. Americans are working harder, more productively, and with more education than ever, but are treading water, as an enormous and ever-increasing share of income growth goes to corporate profits and executive pay. This is a solvable problem. It can be traced in no small part to policies that have allowed labor standards, business practices, and ideas of fairness to increasingly favor employers at the expense of workers.

That is why the Economic Policy Institute launched Raising America’s Pay, a multiyear research and public education initiative to make wage growth an urgent national policy priority. By explaining wage and benefit patterns—and the role of labor market policies and practices in suppressing pay—the initiative is identifying policies that will generate broad-based wage growth. This work is connecting with and supporting civic engagement and community organizing groups working on pay and job quality issues to support their campaigns. Click on the research and events highlighted here to learn what’s been happening to Americans’ pay and what we can do about it.

The State of Working Americahttp://www.stateofworkingamerica.org/

The State of Working America, an ongoing analysis published since 1988 by the Economic Policy Institute, includes a wide variety of data on family incomes, wages, jobs, unemployment, wealth, and poverty that allow for a clear, unbiased understanding of the economy’s effect on the living standards of working Americans.

Interactive Websitehttp://inequality.is/

The fact that the United States has become increasingly unequal in terms of income, wages, wealth and opportunity has hit the mainstream and public demands for economic fairness have gone viral. As the economic think tank for the 99%, EPI is eager to seize on this renewed public interest in creating a fair economy, building upon our nearly three decades of objective economic research that has earned us respect and praise across the political spectrum. The Inequality.is website brings clarity to the national dialogue on wage and income inequality, using interactive tools and videos to tell the story of how we arrived at the state of inequality we find today and what can be done to reverse course and ensure workers get their fair share. Help us support this site and future projects by donating to EPI today. Your contribution is tax-deductible and every donation counts.

"Unions, Inequality, and Faltering Middle-Class Wages"http://www.epi.org/publication/ib342-unions-inequality-faltering-middle-class/
Lawrence Mishel | August 29, 2012

Between 1973 and 2011, the median worker’s real hourly compensation (which includes wages and benefits) rose just 10.7 percent. Most of this growth occurred in the late 1990s wage boom, and once the boom subsided by 2002 and 2003, real wages and compen­sation stagnated for most workers—college graduates and high school graduates alike. This has made the last decade a “lost decade” for wage growth. The last decade has also been characterized by increased wage inequality between workers at the top and those at the middle, and by the continued divergence between overall productivity and the wages or compensation of the typical worker.

A major factor driving these trends has been the ongoing erosion of unionization and the declining bargaining power of unions, along with the weakened ability of unions to set norms or labor standards that raise the wages of comparable nonunion workers.

"How Unions Help All Workers" http://www.epi.org/publication/briefingpapers_bp143/
Matthew Walters and Lawrence Mishel | August 26, 2003

Unions have a substantial impact on the compensation and work lives of both unionized and non-unionized workers. This report presents current data on unions’ effect on wages, fringe benefits, total compensation, pay inequality, and workplace protections.