Better Jobs, Less Poverty

A Letter from John D. Podesta

CAPAF President and CEO urges Congress to promote unions and better jobs for Americans by supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.

Dear Senator: On behalf of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, I write in support of S. 1041, The Employee Free Choice Act. Allowing union representation to increase through the implementation of this legislation would lead to better jobs and reduce poverty for American workers.

Thirty-seven million Americans are living in poverty. The Center for American Progress Task Force on Poverty recently convened a group of experts and issued a report, “From Poverty to Prosperity: A National Strategy to Cut Poverty in Half,” that outlines a national strategy to cut poverty in half. One of the major recommendations was the enactment of the Employee Free Choice Act.

Unionized workers earn, on average, 15 percent to 20 percent more than non-unionized workers in comparable jobs. They are also far more likely to receive benefits such as health insurance and pension plans. For example, union cashiers in 2006 earned 46 percent more than non-union cashiers. These higher earnings can result in more than $7,800 in additional pay for a low-wage worker over the course of a year. Non-unionized workers also benefit greatly from unionization, as unions set a strong standard of pay and benefits in their industry that non-union employers then follow.

Unions also help to reduce income inequality by raising wages for low- and middle-income workers. In doing so, unions can lift many working families—particularly families of color and families headed by women—above the official poverty line. Unfortunately, right now one in four American workers are in jobs for which the wages from full-time work will not keep a family of four out of poverty.

The Employee Free Choice Act is an important and necessary measure to lift working families out of poverty, expand the middle class, and provide economic opportunity to the American workers who need it most. For these reasons, I strongly encourage you to support the passage of S. 1041, The Employee Free Choice Act.

John D. Podesta
Center for American Progress Action Fund

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