Is the decline in the number of union workers due to public policy

June 27, 3:

Is the decline in the number of union workers due to public policy

The exception here is among private-sector nonunion women who have a high school diploma or less education.

Is the decline in the number of union workers due to public policy

For this group, annual median wages for much of the past decades have been relatively flat. And bywomen with only a high school diploma or less education had seen their wages drop below levels that prevailed in Yet these explanations ignore a vital contributing factor: Unions and their effects on wage trends have been studied, but the research focuses on how the shrinking number of private-sector union members reduces the wage gains that accompany membership.

Officially the private-sector unionization rate is 6. The erosion was even larger among men without a college degree, falling from 38 percent to 11 percent. Union membership was not as high among private-sector women as men injust 16 percent, so the drop by to 6 percent was not as severe the fall among non—college graduate women was the same.

As a large body of work documents, unions raise the wages of their members, especially private-sector members, relative to nonunion workers. Thus deunionization—the erosion of the share of workers who belong to a union—has directly contributed to wage stagnation by reducing the fraction of the workforce receiving the union wage premium.

In this report, we take a different approach to the issue of union decline and wages. We contend that unions, especially in industries and regions where they are strong, have indirect effects on wages, helping to establish pay and benefit standards that many nonunion firms adopt.

We begin in for two core reasons. First, research documents a sharp increase in earnings inequality starting around Globalization, technological advances, and institutional shifts—most notably the dramatic decline of the U. These developments are intertwined in numerous ways.

For example, union decline reduced resistance to offshoring, and offshoring, or the threat thereof, emboldened employers in union negotiations. We reduce potential sources of bias in various ways, but caution that our interest is in describing population-level trends in wages for various groups of workers.

Thus while we avoid strict causal claims about wage determination, we believe our various analytical approaches lend confidence to our core contention that private-sector union decline has contributed to wage losses among workers who do not belong to a union.

This is especially true for men and for men who did not complete college or complete or go beyond high school who, as shown in Appendix Table 1, saw the largest erosion of union membership over the last few decades. Why would nonunion workers benefit from a strong union presence in their labor market?


One is through the threat of unionization: For example, Eastman Kodak, the leading producer of photographic film for much of the 20th century, was committed to keeping unions out of its major plants.

Other major nonunion employers monitored union contracts closely in efforts to forestall organizing campaigns. Research has documented how minimum-wage increases benefit workers who earn more than the minimum, through upward wage adjustments. Research has found that lower-level managers—who, being managers, cannot unionize—benefit from a strong union presence in their surrounding labor market.

Threat effects are one way in which union strength may benefit employees who do not belong to unions. The economic literature on threat effects tends to conceive of unions as an institutional impediment to market pay rates, with employers endeavoring to minimize wages in the absence of unions, and raising them above their market rate only when forced to through collective bargaining or the threat thereof.

These norms can extend beyond the unionized core of the workforce, affecting nonunion workers whose employers follow the standards that unions help establish. This is especially true in those times and places where organized labor is comparatively strong.

Research has tied federal minimum wage increases to union strength. Highly unionized states helped lift minimum wages above the levels of states where labor was comparatively weak.Jan 24,  · The bureau said union membership in the public sector — long a labor stronghold — fell to percent in , from 37 percent the previous year.

The number of government workers in unions fell by ,, as many teachers, police officers and others lost their jobs. Some labor relations experts say that part of the reason for a decline in union membership can be due to HR. Young workers, perhaps due to a perceived entitlement to the past victories of labor unions for better working conditions and benefits, have also shied away from joining unions.

Labor unions in the United States - Wikipedia

The biggest reason these unions have seen a decline in membership, though, may be due to the strength of the economy in the late s and again from through Mar 19,  · The decline of unions actually started in when Congress passed a large number of changes to the National labor Relations Act which had given labor bargaining power via the Wagner Act during the Depression.

Union decline has exacerbated wage inequality in the United States by dampening the pay of nonunion workers as well as by eroding the share of workers directly benefitting from unionization. Nov 21,  · The Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank, tracked the rate of union membership versus the share of income going to the top 10 percent of workers over the past years.

How unions help all workers | Economic Policy Institute