Municipal Government

Union Decline Since ’79 Lowers Nonunion Pay by $1,800 Average

September 6, 2016 
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel

Washington, DC – The decline of organized labor since 1979 costs the nation’s 73 million nonunion private-sector workers $133 billion a year in lower wages, the Economic Policy Institute said in a report released Aug. 30.

“Unions, especially in industries and regions where they are strong, help boost the wages of all workers by establishing pay and benefit standards that many nonunion firms adopt,” the report said. “But this union boost to nonunion pay has weakened as the share of private-sector workers in a union has fallen from 1 in 3 in the 1950s to about 1 in 20 today.” The losses were worst for men without a college degree, it added: If unions had been as strong in 2013 as they were in 1979, those men would have made 8% more, about $3,000 a year—instead of having effectively lower wages than they did back then. The effect was smaller for women, because fewer female private-sector workers were in unions in 1979. “Unions have functioned to raise the wages of all workers, union and nonunion,” EPI President Lawrence Mishel said in a statement. “The erosion of collective bargaining has clearly taken a huge toll on nonunion wages in the United States, and is a major factor in the wage stagnation of the last four decades.” Read more

September 5, 2016

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