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

Lessons from the Waterfront: Economic Development Projects Must Do More to Lessen DC’s Worsening Income Inequality

The District of Columbia can use its economic development efforts to stem the tide of the city’s rising income inequality, but it is failing to do so. Instead, the District’s economic development efforts—including the enormous Wharf project—often support creation of low-wage jobs with minimal benefits, a lost opportunity to reduce inequities. By not including requirements to create high-quality jobs, the District encourages developers to compete for projects and profits by aggressively cutting labor costs—at the expense of workers’ ability to live in the District and support their families.

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.