NEW STUDY: Unions Good for Members and Nonmembers Alike

A NEW STUDY SUGGESTS

A dramatic decline in the density of U.S. labor unions since the 1970s has resulted in lower wages for both union and nonunion workers.

The report, led by Jake Rosenfeld, Associate Professor of Sociology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, is "talking about over $100 billion a year in lost wages."

The dramatic decline in union density since 1979 has resulted in far lower wages for nonunion workers. Specifically, nonunion men lacking a college degree would have earned 8 percent, or $3,016 annually, more in 2013 if unions had remained as strong as they were in 1979.

"Working-class men have felt the decline in unionization the hardest…their paychecks are noticeably smaller than if unions had remained as strong as they were almost 40 years ago," said Rosenfeld.

"Rebuilding collective bargaining is one of the tools we have to use to reinvigorate wage growth, for low- and middle-wage workers," continued Rosenfeld.

Unions keep wages high for nonunion workers because union agreements set wage standards and a strong union presence prompts managers to keep wages high in order to prevent workers from organizing or their employees from leaving. Unions also set industrywide norms, influencing what is seen as a "moral economy."

According to this study, if unions had stayed at their 1979 levels, women's wages would today be 2 to 3 percent higher, they estimate.

Looking broadly at how the four-decade decline in unions has eroded the wages for nonunion workers at every level of education and experience, the report estimates that weakened unions have cost full-time men and women working in the private sector as much as $133 billion in lost wages.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Rosenfeld claimed, "This is a study that says that unions are good for members and nonmembers alike."

Read the full story HERE or you can learn more in Rosenfeld's book What Unions No Longer Do, where he further explores the impact of labor unions and how they once exerted tremendous clout in American life.

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