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

The State of Working Wisconsin 2017: Facts & Figures

  • August 31, 2017
  • COWS
  • Joel Rogers, and Laura Dresser.

For more than two decades now, annually, on Labor Day, COWS reports on how working people are faring in the state. The State of Working Wisconsin, released biannually on even-numbered years since  1996, is our long-form report, and looks at the economy comprehensively from a working-family perspective. In odd-numbered years, also biannually, we provide a more abbreviated and focused report, called The State of Working Wisconsin 2017: Facts & Figures.

Finally, a pay raise

In 2016, Vermont’s lowest-paid workers saw the biggest wage gains of any group: 4 percent. When unemployment is low, workers are in short supply, so wages should increase. But Vermont’s low jobless rate—5 percent or less since 2012—was having little effect, especially at the low end. For those workers wages increased less than 2 percent a year from 2009 to 2014. Last year’s gains were due in part to Vermont’s minimum wage increase of 45 cents an hour.

Moving Apprenticeship into Manufacturing’s Future: Industrial Manufacturing Technician

  • February 21, 2017
  • COWS
  • Rhandi Berth, Laura Dresser, and Emanuel Ubert.

Manufacturing in the Midwest continues to evolve. Firms increasingly rely on highly specialized and flexible processes, deploying new technology that redefines workers’ jobs and the skills needed for them. In Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTP)/BIG STEP has spearheaded the creation of a new registered apprenticeship in response to these dynamic forces. Industrial Manufacturing Technicians (IMT)are now working and being trained at firms across the upper Midwest. The success of this apprenticeship derives directly from the WRTP/BIG STEP’s long-standing and deep relationships with manufacturing firms and labor unions built over the course of two decades. The success also owes to the long tradition of apprenticeship in Wisconsin and the ways this project has built from the existing model. This paper offers the story of this apprenticeship innovation which is remaking apprenticeship for the new and rapidly evolving manufacturing sector.