Infographic: $15 and a Union

Workers are standing up for a living wage and a union. Here is why the union is so important.

Workers across the country are protesting today as part of the Fight for $15 movement. They are joining together to call for living wages and a fair path to come together in a union. Cities and states are increasingly responding by raising their minimum-wage standards. But the other piece of their request—to stand together in a union and negotiate collectively—is just as important. By rebuilding unions in the United States, workers can ensure that they earn a good living, strengthen the middle class, and give their kids a better shot at achieving the American dream.

benefits of unions

For additional information, see:

  • For research that discusses the degree to which declining unionization rates contributed to increasing inequality in the United States, see Bruce Western and Jake Rosenfeld, “Unions, Norms, and the Rise in U.S. Wage Inequality,” American Sociological Review 76 (4) (2011): 513–537.
  • For research on how unions affect inequality and redistributive government policies in other developed economies, see Florence Jaumotte and Carolina Osorio Buitron, “Inequality and Labor Market Institutions” (Washington: International Monetary Fund, 2015), available at
  • For research on how unions affect poverty, see David Brady, Regina S. Baker, and Ryan Finnigan, “When Unionization Disappears: State-level Unionization and Working Poverty in the United States,” American Sociological Review 78 (5) (2013): 872–896; Stephanie Moller and others, “Determinants of Relative Poverty in Advanced Capitalist Democracies,” American Sociological Review 68 (1) (2003): 22–51.

David Madland is a Senior Fellow and Senior Advisor to the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Karla Walter is the Director of the American Worker Project at CAP Action. Alex Rowell is a Research Assistant with the Economic Policy team at CAP Action. 

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David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project

Karla Walter

Senior Fellow, Inclusive Economy

Alex Rowell

Policy Analyst