Source: Kris Warner, Bloomberg View, Echoes: Dispatches From Economic History blog, January 23, 2013
Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual summary of unionization in the U.S. It reports that in 2012, the union-membership rate of wage and salary workers was 11.3 percent, compared with 11.8 percent in 2011. The trend has been downward for some time: Fifty years ago, the figure was almost 30 percent.
It’s conventional wisdom that the post-industrial workforce doesn’t want to be unionized. But survey data show that workers’ desire to join unions has been growing since the 1980s, and a majority of nonunion workers would now vote for union representation if given the opportunity. So if workers want unions, why is unionization falling?
Commentators have also blamed the decline on everything from globalization to technological advances to the hollowing-out of American manufacturing. But those factors are only part of the story.
Canada’s experience offers another answer. Canada has gone through many of the same economic and social changes as the U.S. since the middle of the 20th century, yet it hasn’t seen the same precipitous decline in unionization. The unionization rate in the U.S. and Canada followed fairly similar paths from 1920 to the mid-1960s, at which point they began to diverge drastically.
Differences in labor law and public policy are at the root of this disparity. …
Source: International Labour Organization (ILO), January 2013
From the summary:
The annual Global Employment Trends (GET) reports provide the latest global and regional estimates of employment and unemployment, employment by sector, vulnerable employment, labour productivity and working poverty, while also analysing country-level issues and trends in the labour market. … Global Employment Trends 2013 highlights how the crisis is increasingly raising trend unemployment rates, partly driven by sectoral shifts of jobs that had been triggered by the crisis. Despite historically low interest rates in many advanced economies, investment and employment have not shown tangible signs of recovery. Depressed growth prospects have started to spread to the developing world, where low productivity and wage growth continues to remain an issue in most regions, preventing improvements in employment and disposable incomes, in particular among poorer countries, and adding to a rise in global inequality.
The report argues that in countries with high and rising unemployment, job guarantee programmes for targeted labour market groups should be the preferred policy measure. Moreover, rising labour market discouragement and structural unemployment should be tackled with new skills and training initiatives to help jobseekers find employment in alternative industries and to promote their employability more broadly. Other possible areas of intervention are further investments in public infrastructure in developing countries and a swift implementation of financial market regulation to help stabilize the macroeconomic environment and stimulate job creation.
Global Employment Trends for Women 2012
Source: International Labour Organization (ILO), December 2012
Source: National Partnership for Women & Families, September 2012
An unprecedented analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows that the gender-based wage gap affects women in nearly every corner of the country. In 97 percent of congressional districts — 423 out of 435 districts — the median yearly pay for women is less than the median yearly pay for men. This is the first-ever analysis of these data by congressional district, providing a unique opportunity for women, families and lawmakers to consider the local impact of disparities in pay.
Latinas and the Wage Gap
Source: National Partnership for Women & Families, Fact Sheet, January 2013
African American Women and the Wage Gap
Source: National Partnership for Women & Families, Fact Sheet, January 2013
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Division of Labor Force Statistics, Economic News Release, USDL-13-0105, January 23, 2013
In 2012, the union membership rate–the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union–was 11.3 percent, down from 11.8 percent in 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.4 million, also declined over the year. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers.
The data on union membership were collected as part of the Current Population Survey(CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population ages 16 and over. For more information, see the Technical Note.
Highlights from the 2012 data:
–Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.9 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.6 percent). (See table 3.)
–Workers in education, training, and library occupations and in protective service occupations had the highest unionization rates, at 35.4 and 34.8 percent, respectively. (See table 3.)
–Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)
–Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (23.2 percent), and North Carolina again had the lowest rate (2.9 percent). (See table 5.)
Source: Jasmine Kerrissey, Evan Schofer, Social Forces, First published online: January 9, 2013
From the abstract:
This article examines the effect of union membership on civic and political participation in the late 20th century in the United States. We discuss why and how unions seek to mobilize their members and where mobilization is channeled. We argue that union membership affects electoral and collective action outcomes and will be larger for low socioeconomic status individuals. Statistical analyses find that union membership is associated with many forms of political activity, including voting, protesting, association membership, and others. Union effects are larger for less educated individuals, a group that otherwise exhibits low levels of participation. Union membership is not associated with outcomes distant from union political agendas, such as general volunteering and charitable giving, suggesting that unions generate political capital rather than generalized social capital.
Source: Annette Bernhardt, Michael W. Spiller, Diana Polson, Social Forces, First published online: January 10, 2013
From the abstract:
Despite three decades of scholarship on economic restructuring in the United States, employers’ violations of minimum wage, overtime and other workplace laws remain understudied. This article begins to fill the gap by presenting evidence from a large-scale, original worker survey that draws on recent advances in sampling methodology to reach vulnerable workers. Our findings suggest that in America’s three largest cities, violations of employment and labor laws are pervasive across low-wage industries and occupations, affecting a wide range of workers. But while worker characteristics are correlated with violations, job and employer characteristics play the stronger role, including industry, occupation and measures of informality and nonstandard work. We therefore propose a framework in which employers’ noncompliance with labor regulations is one axis of a competitive strategy based on labor cost reduction, contributing to the reorganization of work and production in the 21st century labor market.
Source: Labor Party Time? blog, 2013
Labor Party Time? is a forum to discuss and debate the need for an independent political party for working people and the prospects for a renewed labor party effort given the state of the labor movement in the United States. The experiences of the Labor Party, founded in June 1996 as a new political party of, by and for working people, serve as the basis for the discussion.
Labor Party Time? Not Yet.
Labor Party Time? Not Yet by Labor Party National Organizer Mark Dudzic and Secretary-Treasurer Katherine Isaac chronicles the successes and failures of the Labor Party movement and analyzes the impact of the effort, the reasons for its decline, and its lessons for today. Join the discussion by posting comments to the Labor Party Time? analysis or to the responses by Labor Party activists Jed Dodd, Donna Dewitt, Chris Townsend, Bill Onasch, and Les Leopold.
Source: International Trade Union Confederation, 2012
From the foreword:
2011 was a year of dramatic change, with the Arab Spring heralding new opportunities and new challenges. Trade union rights are more heavily repressed in the Middle East and North Africa than anywhere else on the globe. As people rose up to demand the recognition of their long-suppressed democratic rights, trade unions played a leading role, notably in Tunisia and Egypt. Sadly they paid a heavy price for that involvement, being among the many hundreds killed and the thousands arrested and detained. The struggle continues, both to remove other authoritarian regimes and to build real democracy where they have already fallen, creating an environment in which independent trade unions can flourish. The spirit and determination of the people remains unbowed, as shown by the huge turnout in the November elections in Egypt, and the continued protests in Bahrain and Syria, despite the repression.
The world economic crisis continued to impact unfairly on workers, as many governments persisted in favouring austerity measures over stimulating growth and employment. Unemployment rose to record levels in 2011, with over 205 million people out of work. In Europe, trade unions felt the impact of the Eurozone crisis, with Portugal, Hungary and Romania all further restricting workers’ rights as part of their austerity measures. The most dramatic changes were in Greece however where unemployment rose to 21%, wages and living standards fell sharply and collective bargaining rights were severely curtailed….
…For some workers, defending their trade union rights can cost them their life. In 2011 at least 76 workers died directly as a result of their trade union activities – in addition to those killed during the repression of the Arab Spring protests. There were 56 deaths in Latin America alone, including 29 in Colombia and a further 10 in Guatemala, crimes committed with almost total impunity. At least eight trade unionists lost their lives in Asia. Four were killed in the Philippines, all shot and killed, in four separate incidents, but all had played a prominent role in defending workers rights. A garment union leader and activist was brutally killed in Bangladesh, two years after the government had severely beaten him for his activity. And a one-year-old child died in Zimbabwe after spending a night on the roadside in the rain because its family was among the farm workers summarily evicted for daring to organise. …
Source: Jennifer K. Elsea, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report for Congress, RS21900, January 10, 2013
This report provides an overview of the relationship between executive and legislative authority over national security information, and summarizes the current laws that form the legal framework protecting classified information, including current executive orders and some agency regulations pertaining to the handling of unauthorized disclosures of classified information by government officers and employees. The report also summarizes criminal laws that pertain specifically to the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, as well as civil and administrative penalties. Finally, the report describes some recent developments in executive branch security policies and relevant legislative activity
Source: Mari Jo Buhle, Dissent, Winter 2013
When Wisconsin governor Scott Walker opened his assault on collective bargaining in February 2011, few people realized it would open the door to the election of Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate in November 2012. Baldwin, the first woman to represent Wisconsin in the Senate and the first openly gay senator in U.S. history, had been backed by many women’s organizations since her first run for Congress in 1998, but Walker’s successful attempt to roll back the collective bargaining rights of 360,000 public sector workers brought together an unprecedented coalition of labor and women’s groups. …