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

Collective bargaining can reduce turnover and improve public services in Colorado

  • April 9, 2019
  • Rich Jones

Since 2009, there has been a growing problem in Colorado with increasing employee turnover, programs operating with short staffing forcing employees to work extensive overtime, and low morale that jeopardizes vital public services.  The growing turnover is complicated by the difficulty filling authorized positions. Research shows that collective bargaining for public sector employees, coupled with labor management partnerships, has been effective at improving agency performance and reducing employee turnover.

High turnover makes it hard to provide quality service to residents, reduces the efficiency and effectiveness of state agencies, puts a strain on state workers, and burdens taxpayers. Based on a careful review of research on turnover costs, replacing the 4,268 workers who left state government in FY 2017-18 conservatively cost taxpayers $48 million. Research shows that allowing state employees to negotiate with their employer through a collective bargaining process for better pay, benefits, and working conditions will help lower turnover rates, save taxpayers millions, and improve services.

A Public Investment

Public workers and retirees make up 11 percent of the adult population of Hawai‘i. Nearly one out of every five adults aged 65 and older is a public worker retiree. Hawai‘i’s state and county governments employ more than 66,000 people who, if they meet eligibility requirements, will eventually receive pension and “other post-employment benefits” (OPEB) such as health insurance coverage in retirement. Over the years, Hawai‘i’s public retirement liabilities have grown as current and promised benefits have outpaced contributions and asset growth to cover them. These retirement costs are sometimes referred to as “unfunded liabilities,” which means that our obligations exceed the funds currently available to pay them.

In this report, we examine the public retirement benefits as a budgetary issue of interest to all Hawai‘i residents, and one that is crucial for policymakers to understand and address effectively. We also identify strategies available to meet public obligations responsibly and equitably.

State of Working Colorado 2018

At a cursory glance, Colorado has much to celebrate in terms of low unemployment and poverty levels, but scratching the surface of the data reveals troubling trends fraught with wage stagnation and disparities.

CCLP produces the State of Working Colorado every year to gauge how the economy is performing for workers across the income spectrum. The publication is intended to help stakeholders and policymakers determine where to focus their efforts in revitalizing opportunities and prosperity for hard-working Coloradans across the racial spectrum.

State of Working Wisconsin 2018

  • August 31, 2018
  • COWS
  • Laura Dresser, Joel Rogers, Emanuel Ubert, and Anna Walther

A decade after the Great Recession, Wisconsin’s economy, at least in employment and family income, has finally and meaningfully recovered. Unemployment and involuntary part-time employment rates are low. And, nearly a fifth of the way into this new century, the value of the median income of four-person families finally exceeds its 2000 level. This is very welcome news for working Wisconsinites.

This good news is not untarnished. Despite job gains, Wisconsin’s job growth is slow relative to the national pace. Wages are still in no way keeping pace with worker productivity. Wisconsin is comparatively weak in more lucrative occupations: professional, scientific, technical, and information. Our manufacturing sector, while growing, is a still significantly smaller than at the beginning of the century. And inequality continues to grow. One in five workers currently holds a poverty-wage job with few benefits. Rural economies are declining. Wisconsin’s black/white disparities still lead the nation.