Union membership down, income inequality up

Union membership down, income inequality up

By August 30, 2012: 9:22 AM ET

The decline of union membership has been a key driver of income inequality in recent decades, a new report found.

The drop in unionization accounts for roughly a third of the growth in wage inequality among men and a fifth among women between 1973 and 2007, according to the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.

The share of the workforce represented by unions declined from 26.7% in 1973 to 13.1% in 2011. This contributed to the increase in inequality by lowering wages for middle class workers, according to EPI.

A non-partisan Congressional Budget Office report last year showed that the average household income for the nation’s top 1% more than tripled, while middle-class incomes grew by less than 40% between 1979 to 2007.

The pullback in unionization has also been a primary cause of the growing wage gap between white- and blue-collar men, as well as between college-educated and high school-educated men.

“Unions reduce wage inequalities because they raise wages more at the bottom and in the middle of the wage scale than at the top,” said Lawrence Mishel, EPI’s president.

Declining unionization has hurt men more than women because men were more likely to have been in unions in their heyday.

Union workers are paid a premium of 13.6% thanks to their collective bargaining contracts, according to EPI.

Blacks and Hispanics enjoy premiums of 17.3% and 23.1%, respectively, while whites have a 10.9% bump. Men see a 17.3% premium and women 9.1%.

This advantage is calculated by comparing hourly wages between union and non-union workers who are otherwise comparable in terms of experience, education, industry and other factors.

G.O.P. Platform Seeks to Weaken Powers of Unions

 

New York Times
August 30, 2012, 10:58 am

G.O.P. Platform Seeks to Weaken Powers of Unions

By STEVEN GREENHOUSE

 

Unlike in the past, this year’s Republican platform in Tampa, Fla., does not contain any sympathetic nods to the nation’s labor unions, which have become among the Republicans’ most formidable political foes. Instead, the platform calls for numerous steps that could significantly weaken America’s labor unions — public-sector and private-sector ones — and help speed organized labor’s overall decline.

The 2012 platform urges elected officials across the country to change their laws regarding public-sector unions and follow the lead of Wisconsin’s governor, Scott Walker, who spearheaded an effort to curb the ability of his state’s public employees to bargain collectively. The platform states, “We salute Republican governors and state legislators who have saved their states from fiscal disaster by reforming their laws governing public employee unions.” Mr. Walker said that that legislation was needed to weaken overly powerful unions and balance Wisconsin’s budget, while labor leaders said the legislation aimed to destroy public-sector unions and cripple them politically. Continue reading “G.O.P. Platform Seeks to Weaken Powers of Unions”

GOP platform takes aim at federal workforce

GOP platform takes aim at federal workforce

The Republican Party unveiled its national platformTuesday, revealing its plan to downsize the federal workforce, trim federal benefits and privatize airport screeners.

The platform calls for a wholesale reinvention of the federal government, which has become “bloated, antiquated and unresponsive to taxpayers,” according to the plan.

“It is our intention not only to improve management and provide better services, but also to rethink and restructure government to bring it into the twenty-first century,” the drafters of the Republican plan wrote. Continue reading “GOP platform takes aim at federal workforce”

RNC 2012: Bashing Working People Everywhere

RNC 2012: Bashing Working People Everywhere

08/29/2012; Jackie Tortora

Bashing unions and working people seems to be the unifying theme of the 2012 Republican National Convention (RNC) held in Tampa, Fla., this week.

Josh Eidelson wrote for Salon that the RNC’s choice of speakers and agenda is “a full-on embrace of the same anti-union agenda that helped earn Scott Walker and Nikki Haley their Tuesday night speaking slots.”

The new platform reflects a Republican Party even more hostile to organized labor than the one that nominated John McCain four years ago. Continue reading “RNC 2012: Bashing Working People Everywhere”

REPORT: Five Things Unions Have Done For All Americans

REPORT: Five Things Unions Have Done For All Americans

By Zaid Jilani on Mar 5, 2011 at 8:00 am

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Over the past few weeks, right-wing legislators have unleashed a torrent of radical legislation upon the American electorate designed to gut collective bargaining rights and attack the middle class. As these conservatives have launched their assault, a Main Street Movement consisting of ordinary Americans fed up with living in such an unequal country has fought back.

Conservatives have sought to malign this movement by claiming that it is simply defending the parochial interests of labor unions, who they claim are imposing huge costs on taxpayers with little benefit. Yet the truth is that America’s public and private unions have been one of the major forces in building a robust and vibrant middle class and have fought over the past century to improve the lives of all Americans in a variety of ways. ThinkProgress has assembled just five of the many things that Americans can thank the nation’s unions for giving us all: Continue reading “REPORT: Five Things Unions Have Done For All Americans”