Unions

Unions represent workers of all levels of education, and union workers are diverse, just like America. As of 2016, roughly 10.6 million of the 16.3 million workers covered by a union contract are women and/or people of color, and more than half (54.5 percent) of workers age 18 to 64 and covered by a union contract have an associate degree or more education.

The erosion of collective bargaining has undercut wages and benefits not only for union members, but for nonunion workers as well. This has been a major cause of middle-class income stagnation and rising inequality. Yet, millions of workers desire union representation but are not able to obtain it. Restoring workers’ ability to organize and bargain collectively for improved compensation and a voice on the job is a major public policy priority.

Publications

Unions promote stronger, fairer economy for all workers

Labor unions are a time-tested way for workers to organize and negotiate collectively for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions.

By advocating for better conditions in their own workplaces, unions also set standards for workers throughout the country. While union membership has declined since the 1960s, unions are still key to building a stronger, fairer economy for working Americans.

The State of Working Wisconsin 2019: Fact & Figures

  • August 30, 2019
  • COWS
  • Laura Dresser & Joel Rogers

Each year on Labor Day, COWS draws a picture of how working people in Wisconsin are faring. The long report, The State of Working Wisconsin, is released biannually on even-numbered years and looks at the economy comprehensively from a working-family perspective. In odd-numbered years, like 2019, we provide a more abbreviated and focused report, called The State of Working Wisconsin: Facts & Figures.

On some of the most well-known economic indicators, there is good news for Wisconsin workers. The unemployment rate in the state has been consistently low. The economy is steadily adding jobs. These are important measures for working people’s lives. When jobs are more available not only is it easier to secure a job, it is also easier to get the hours of work you want, to be able to ask for time-off you need, and to make ends meet. This Labor Day, with the memory of the Great Recession of 2007 now fading from memory, workers across Wisconsin have this good news to celebrate.

Even so, many working families in the state feel stressed and stretched. In this report, then, we provide information on few key long-term trends that are contributing to the stress even in the context of low unemployment. Looking across the last forty years, the challenges working people face are clear. Wage growth has been anemic. Income inequality is reaching new highs. Unions, which have been so critical to supporting workers in this state, are in serious decline. Additionally, state policy, which could be helping to close gaps, is actually exacerbating these trends. From tax changes that reward our highest income families to rejection of health insurance to cover our families in need, policy continues to pave the low-road for our state.

Manufacturing Job Growth Has Slowed in Kentucky Since Passage of “Right-To-Work”

Manufacturing job losses in recent decades have hurt Kentucky communities. Two recessions and trade policies that have encouraged outsourcing and made American goods more expensive relative to other countries’ have led to the loss of these relatively high-quality jobs which once provided a decent standard of living for more Kentuckians. Despite the claims of proponents of “Right-To-Work” (RTW), which was enacted in Kentucky in 2017, employment data suggests the policy hasn’t led to a hiring boom in manufacturing.