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How Unions Are Crucial for Building Working-Class Economic Power

How Unions Are Crucial for Building Working-Class Economic Power

Union membership allows workers without four-year college degrees to earn more and achieve financial security for their families and children.

Union workers benefit from collective bargaining in all sorts of way—higher wages, better benefits, increased job stability, safer workplaces, and more—and these effects are especially prominent for the working class. While researchers often neglect to draw conclusions on the benefits of union membership for the working class—defined as those without a four-year college degree—a body of existing research points the way forward for researchers and policymakers alike. These findings show that union membership offers a range of economic benefits for members of the working class, including:

  • Increased wages for members that spill over to nonunion workers
  • Improved access to benefits, particularly for women and Black workers
  • Higher predicted returns to male workers’ earnings over the course of their lifetimes than a four-year college degree
  • Increased wealth and narrowed racial wealth gaps
  • Increased intergenerational mobility for the children of union parents

The above excerpt was originally published in the Center for American Progress. Click here to view the full article.

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Aurelia Glass

Policy Analyst, Inclusive Economy

David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project


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