Public Sector Unions and the Poor

Source: Jake Rosenfeld, OnLabor Blog, Guest Post, July 22, 2014

…Of the ten states with the highest public sector unionization rates, seven have poverty rates below or at the national average. Of the ten states with the lowest public sector unionization rates, meanwhile, seven have above-average poverty levels. Is this decisive evidence that strong public sector unions cause lower poverty? Of course not. But it’s certainly not the pattern one would expect to see if public sector unions increased the cost and reduced the availability of services to the poor. Other research is more dispositive: in a comprehensive statistical examination of what causes household poverty in the U.S., sociologist David Brady and his colleagues find that two key predictors of lower poverty is state-level unionization and working in the public sector. … Additional research points to the critical role public sector expansion and public sector unionization have on reducing racial inequality. Andrew Strom highlighted the historic Civil Rights drive to organize sanitation workers in Memphis. The connections between government unionization and African-Americans extend well beyond that campaign. … Recent privatization of governmental services has hurt African-American workers more than others, helping to reverse hard-fought gains. ….
Related:
When Unionization Disappears: State-Level Unionization and Working Poverty in the United States
Source: David Brady, Regina S. Baker, and Ryan Finnigan, American Sociological Review, Vol. 78 no. 5, October 2013 (subscription required)

What Do We Really Know About Racial Inequality? Labor Markets, Politics, and the Historical Basis of Black Economic Fortunes
Source: William Sites, Virginia Parks, Politics & Society, Vol. 39 no. 1, March 2011

Public Sector Unions — Some History and Economics
Source: Andrew Strom, OnLabor Blog, Guest Post, July 18, 2014
(subscription required)

Privatization and Racial Inequality

Source: Vincent J. Roscigno, George Wilson, Contexts, Vol. 13 no. 1, Winter 2014