The Union Difference Is Even More Pronounced for Families of Color

A new report from the Center for American Progress shows that union membership helps increase wealth and prosperity for families of color. The research comes on top of recent polls showing that more and more people are embracing the powerful benefits of collective bargaining.

 

Here are some of the key findings of the report:

  • When working people collectively bargain for wages, benefits and employment procedures, as union members they have higher wages, more benefits and more stable employment as a result of the bargaining agreement.

  • Household wealth is dependent on several factors, including income, savings, people having benefits like health insurance and life insurance.

  • Higher wages lead to higher savings, particularly when combined with job-related benefits, such as health and life insurance, since those benefits require union members to spend less out-of-pocket to protect their families.

  • Union members have higher job stability and protections, which lead to longer tenures at a workplace. This can lead to more savings as longer-tenured employees are more likely to be eligible for key benefits that accrue over time.

  • Nonwhite families with a union member in the household have a median wealth that is 485% as large as the median wealth of nonunion families of color.

  • Union members' annual earnings are between 20 and 50% higher than those for nonunion members.

  • The benefits of union membership for nonwhite families is more significant than it is for white families because nonwhite workers tend to work at jobs with lower pay, fewer benefits and less stability. Union membership lowers the gap for everyone, but the gains are larger when you are starting from a lower level of income and benefits.

  • Union members also are less likely to experience a negative shock (a large change in income) and more likely to experience a positive shock.

Read the full report.

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Reposted from the AFL-CIO.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From AFL-CIO

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder