Organizing Prosperity: Union Effects on Job Quality, Community Betterment, and Industry Standards

Source: Matt Vidal and David Kusnet, Economic Policy Institute, EPI Book, February 2009

Strong unions can help improve working conditions within occupations and industries, going far beyond simply improving wages. Unions can help employers provide training, reduce turnover, and generally improve the work environment in ways that benefit employers and workers by helping ensure that competitive pressures do not bring out the worst tendencies in employers. Indeed, unions can help set and protect basic employment standards for entire industries.

The benefits that arise from labor-management agreements — and the costs for workers and communities of undermining longstanding, successful agreements — are the stories of Organizing Prosperity, an examination of the role that unionism has played in lifting up workers, communities, and even businesses themselves in a dozen American occupations and industries.

At a time when the nation is grappling with economic problems ranging from structural unemployment to skills shortages, stagnant wages, declining health care coverage, dwindling pension plans, and the competitiveness of U.S. companies in the global economy, one lesson emerges from Organizing Prosperity: unions can be part of the solution.

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