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New BLS Report Shows Union Members Earn Hundreds More Per Week

Today the Department of Labor released their annual report on union membership in the United States.  For the first time in many years the number of union members held steady at just over 11% of the U.S. workforce.

For many years labor unions have been saying that being a union member has a definite financial advantage, and this report proves it.

The data also show that among full-time wage and salary workers, union members have higher median weekly earnings than nonunion workers,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez.  “The median weekly earnings of union members were $950, compared to $750 for nonunion workers.

Wages union vs non union

The average benefit for being a union member is $200 per week, or just over $10,000 per year.  That is a significant boost to a workers income.

The additional money in their paycheck is not the only benefit to being a union member, as Sec. Perez explains.

Along with higher wages, other data show that union members have greater access to employment-based benefits, such as health insurance, a retirement savings plan, and sick and vacation leave.

The Economic Policy Institute reports:

Unionized workers are more likely than their nonunionized counterparts to receive paid leave, are approximately 18% to 28% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and are 23% to 54% more likely to be in employer-provided pension plans.”

Not only are unionized workers more likely to have healthcare, typically they pay less for their coverage.

They (unionized workers) also pay 18% lower health care deductibles and a smaller share of the costs for family coverage.” (EPI Report)

Membership has its benefits.

Sec. Thomas Perez: “Workers’ ability to form unions and engage in collective bargaining has been a cornerstone of a strong middle class. The decline in union membership over the last few decades has contributed to more working families struggling to get by. When workers have a seat at the table, they are better able to bargain for their fair share of the value they helped create; and that leads to greater economic security and economic mobility for everyone.  As our economy continues to recover and we work to create good jobs, we need to ensure workers can lift their voices to raise wages, reduce inequality and help more people climb ladders of opportunity.”

Union membership states

From BLS report

See also Private-Sector Union Membership Grows in 2013 from the AFL-CIO


AFL-CIO President Trumka Comments On The April Jobs Report

The economy added 165,000 jobs in April, bringing the unemployment rate down slightly, to 7.5 percent. This is welcome news, together with upward revisions to prior months’ jobs figures. But overall, the nation’s economic recovery remains lackluster – almost four full years after the “official” end of the recession. By any measure, the shortage of jobs is the real deficit crisis for this economy.

Beneath the headlines, there are several troubling indicators in today’s report.  Hours worked per worker actually fell; involuntary part-time work increased; and the unemployment rate for teenagers is stalled at 24.1 percent. Youth unemployment rates would be even higher, were it not for the dramatic drop in the labor force participation numbers for young people, meaning that many are not counted as unemployed.

Our economy is struggling to achieve the economic velocity necessary for full recovery. The blame for this falls largely on Republicans in Congress. For years, they have pushed austerity policies that have turned stimulus tailwinds into austerity headwinds. It is this misguided policy direction that distinguishes this weak and slow recovery from past economic cycles.

Austerity policies are failing around the world, and have now also been discredited among policy analysts. The main research cited to support these policies — by Professors Reinhart and Rogoff  — contained significant errors in calculation and design, and no longer supports the strong policy recommendations initially claimed.

It is time for leaders in Washington to take immediate action to reverse these disastrous policies. That starts, first and foremost, with repealing the harmful and unnecessary “sequester.” Misguided austerity has hurt our economy, kept unemployment high, and undermined wages, and we urgently need to change course. But the price for correcting this mistake should not be cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits, or other harmful cuts that would further damage the economy. Working people were not responsible for this mistaken policy, and they should not have to pay the price. We need more economic security, not less. We need to invest in good jobs and our future – not slash essential social programs and investments.

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on February Jobs Report

From WIKIPediaFebruary’s encouraging job growth is welcome news, but before we get too excited, let’s not ignores the real pain that working families still experience outside the bubble of D.C.  Long-term unemployment remains unchanged, 14.3 percent of working people in the United States are unemployed or underemployed and public sector employment continues to decline even before the sequester’s devastating impacts have been felt.  And let’s not ignore the politician-made obstacles in front of us:  The 750,000 jobs that the Congressional Budget office estimates will be lost in 2013 due to the sequester is more than three times the number of net new jobs in February (236,000).

Our mission to restore balance to our economy and growth to our labor market is far from complete. Indeed, the progress made toward achieving that mission is in danger of reversal due to the widespread embrace of the zombie idea of austerity. We need the Federal Reserve to continue monetary easing until we have a secure recovery. And what we need from elected officials is simple: Repeal the sequester and invest in working people.

We need the shared prosperity we have not achieved while elites have focused on slashing rules governing corporations, cutting taxes for the rich, and undermining the voice of working people in the workplace. That is why the labor movement is committed to the policies of ‘Prosperity Economics’ — reforms that will unite and strengthen America by creating jobs, promoting economic security and rebuilding our democracy. We can build an economy that works for all if we work together to dislodge the policies that have made the economy work well for only the top 1%.

Union Membership In Decline Due To Austerity Cuts, Not Members Leaving

Yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a new report that shows that union membership slipped slightly over the last year.  The report show that overall union membership went from 11.8% of the workforce to 11.3%.

I am sure that right-wing pundits are going to continue to say that this decline shows that people do not want union representation anymore.  I would beg to differ. The fact of the matter is America is adding jobs and growing our economy. The problem is that many of these jobs are not eligible for union representation, or are struggling to gain representation.

“Throughout most of the recession union membership in Oregon grew as more workers realized the importance of having a voice at work. But we knew that eventually the job losses would translate to lower membership numbers, and that appears to have caught up with us this year,” said
Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain.

Workers like those at Wal-Mart and American Airlines have been fighting for years to gain representation rights.  Think of what these numbers would be if we added the two million Wal-Mart employees to the list of union-represented workers.  OUR Walmart, which organized the national ‘Black Friday’ boycott/picket of Walmart is working to organize those workers and give them a voice on the job.

The problem with organizing is that even when workers overwhelmingly want and need union representation, the process makes it very difficult to get that representation.  This is the exact case with CWA and American Airlines service agents.  They have been working to hold a representation election for over a year.  During this wait, American Airlines has laid off hundreds of employees and replaced them with temporary (ineligible for representation) workers.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka stated:

“Working women and men urgently need a voice on the job today, but the sad truth is that it has become more difficult for them to have one, as today’s figures on union membership demonstrate. “

The second reason for this decline is the massive cuts in the public sector throughout the US.  Public employee unions represent more of their workforce than any other occupation.  Jobs cutsWhen the government sheds jobs, that results in a loss of union membership. The biggest hit, percentage wise, was at the local level.  This is teachers, firefighters, police officers, and municipal workers.  Last year alone, local governments cut nearly 100,000 jobs.

The Federal sector has also taken a beating.  As you can see from this chart, since 2010 alone the Federal Sector has dropped over 2% of its workforce.  Since 30% of the Federal workforce are members of a union, this means 1 in 3 federal job cuts is a union member no longer on the payroll.

One other area that has seen a significant drop in union membership is directly affected by the Government: the building trades.

Many states have greatly slowed their infrastructure investments over the last four to five years. These cuts have made it even harder on the already struggling building trades. Even with the Federal mandate to use project labor agreements (PLAs), if the states are not spending money, there are fewer union jobs.

It begs the question: how would union membership have been affected if Congress had acted on the American Jobs Act, instead of insisting on austerity cuts?

Many of the private-sector occupations have actually seen growth in union membership.  Combine that with the potential of over one million new jobs to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, and I firmly believe that the number of union members would actually be on the rise for the first time in many years.

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