Category Archives: Labor Unions

How LGBTQ Union Activists Transformed the Labor Movement

Source: Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue, No Class, June 7, 2019

….In 28 U.S. states, queer and trans workers can still be fired due to their sexual orientation and gender identity, and a strong union contract is often the only legally binding workplace protection available to LGBTQIA workers to fight employment discrimination. This is especially important because of the high unemployment rates for transgender and non-binary people — 16% overall — which can be compounded by other factors like racial discrimination, age discrimination, or national origin discrimination…..

‘We Want Both!’: pressuring Philadelphia unions for inclusion and equity during the long 1970s

Source: Alyssa Ribeiro, Labor History, Latest Articles, June 2, 2019
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From the abstract:
This article examines local labor insurgency in Philadelphia between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s. Drawing on alternative press sources, it traces the efforts of Black, Puerto Rican, and female workers to reshape their unions as stable employment opportunities declined. Across industries and job sites, workers pressured both their unions and their employers through public criticism, running slates of candidates in union elections, and taking part in picketing and wildcat strikes. Existing scholarship has privileged rank-and-file activism among White men focused on wages and working conditions. Enlarging our view to include a more representative workforce at the local level while following workers’ resistance forward through time recharacterizes the rank-and-file rebellion to include defiant, multiracial coalitions demanding progressive reform. That broader rebellion, in turn, challenges some long-held assumptions about US labor during the 1970s.

Library Professionals: Facts & Figures

Source: Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE), Fact Sheet, May 2019

Librarians and other library professionals provide essential services for schools, universities, and communities. Americans go to libraries for free, reliable, and well-organized access to books, the Internet, and other sources of information and entertainment; assistance finding work; research and reference assistance; and programs for children, immigrants, seniors and other groups with specific needs, just to name a few.

This fact sheet explores the role of library staff in the workforce, the demographics, educational attainment and wages of librarians, as well as the benefits of union membership for librarians and other issues faced by library staff…..

…..Librarians and library worker union members have leveraged their collective voices to earn fair wages and stronger benefits. Wages and benefits earned by union librarians and library workers are more commensurate with the skilled and professional nature of library work.

In 2018, librarians who were union members earned 38 percent ($284) more per week than their non-union counterparts. While this statistic is also subject to volatility due to the sample size, trends in the data show that it pays to be a union librarian.

– In 2018, union library assistants earned 48 percent higher hourly wages ($18.67) than their non-union counterparts ($12.62).
– Due to the small sample size, 2018 union wage data is not available for library technicians. In 2009, the last year comparative data was available, union library technicians earned 49 percent more than their non-union counterparts.

Union members are more likely than their non-union counterparts to be covered by a retirement plan, health insurance, and paid sick leave. In 2018, 95 percent of union members in the civilian workforce had access to a retirement plan, compared with only 67 percent of non-union workers. Similarly, 95 percent of union members had access to employer provided health insurance, compared to 69 percent of non-union workers in 2017. In 2017, 90 percent of union members in the civilian workforce had access to paid sick leave compared to 71 percent of non-union workers…..

Conservatives Pushed a Strategy to Weaken Home Health Care Unions. The Trump Administration Bit.

Source: Rachel M. Cohen, Nick Surgey, The Intercept, May 31, 2019

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced a new rule barring home health care workers from paying union dues through their Medicaid-funded wages. The new Department of Health and Human Services rule, which will impact more than 800,000 workers and was immediately met with a legal challenge, followed years of planning by anti-union activists to promote such measures in states across the country, and, more recently, on the federal level.

In anticipation of a crushing blow to public-sector unions by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer, conservative groups ramped up their efforts to bring the federal government’s attention to the issue of Medicaid-funded union dues, according to an audio recording obtained by The Intercept and Documented.

On an invitation-only call with donors last June, leaders with the State Policy Network — a corporate-backed umbrella group of right-wing think tanks across the country — raised the issue of directly deducting union dues from Medicaid-funded paychecks, what they call “dues-skimming.” Vinnie Vernuccio, a labor policy adviser to the State Policy Network told donors that its plan was to end this practice by getting “an administrative rule passed at Health and Human Services” and passing federal legislation with the assistance of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash…..

How to Rebuild the Labor Movement, State by State – What progressives can learn from conservative anti-union advocacy

Source: Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, American Prospect, Spring 2019

Last year’s strikes and direct action by workers, especially red-state public school teachers, have rightly been celebrated for injecting new energy into the American labor movement. Yet these mobilizations should not distract progressives from the magnitude of the challenges facing unions and their supporters in the Democratic Party. The next time Democrats regain control of Congress and the White House, they will need to put major reforms of federal labor law front and center. In the meantime, they ought to learn from conservative anti-union efforts about pursuing change through the states and developing a politically minded strategy for labor reform.

In particular, Democrats need to think about labor law reform not just as yet another area of public policy, but rather as conservatives do: as a set of reforms that can build durable political power that enables further policy wins on other issues. Before spelling out the specific lessons that the left can take from the right’s victories, it is helpful to step back to see just how differently Democrats and Republicans think about unions.

All-Out Republican Opposition versus Democratic Ambivalence

Over the past four decades, conservative political activists and donors, often bolstered by private-sector businesses, have fruitfully used public policy as a political weapon to weaken unions, especially public-sector unions. Crucially, these cross-state conservative coalitions, above all the conservative “troika” of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the State Policy Network, and Americans for Prosperity, have never seen their anti-labor efforts as simply an end in themselves. Instead, right-wing advocacy against unions recognizes the inherently political role that the labor movement plays—and thus that efforts to weaken unions will eventually redound to conservatives’ long-term political victories. …..

Building a New Generation of Women Labor Leaders

Source: Lane Windham, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, Vol. 16 no. 2, May 2019
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From the abstract:
Anyone who glimpsed the diverse group of young women intently conferencing at Georgetown University might have mistaken them for diligent students. In fact, they were the inaugural apprenticeship class of the WILL Empower initiative that is designed to identify, nurture, and train a new generation of women labor leaders. The Apprenticeship Program is one of four interwoven programs spearheaded by WILL Empower (Women Innovating Labor Leadership), jointly founded in 2017 by Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor and Rutgers University’s Center for Innovation in Worker Organization. By focusing on building women’s leadership for a broad range of worker-based economic justice organizations, WILL Empower is breaking fresh ground even as the nation’s political economy remains stubbornly stacked against working people.

Three big ideas undergird WILL Empower’s unique approach to building a successful twenty-first-century labor movement: (1) women must lead at a whole new level, especially women of color; (2) traditional labor unions and new forms of worker organizations constitute a single movement; (3) a multilayered partnership can model the sort of innovative approach that the movement needs……

State Collective Bargaining Laws and Public-Sector Pay

Source: Eric J. Brunner, Andrew Ju, ILR Review, Vol. 72 no. 2, March 2019
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From the abstract:
Using the Public Use Microdata Sample from the 2005 to 2015 American Community Survey, the authors provide new evidence on how state collective bargaining laws affect public-sector wages. To isolate the causal effect of bargaining laws on public-sector pay, they examine wage differentials between otherwise similar public- and private-sector employees located in the same local labor market. They estimate difference-in-differences (DD) models that exploit two sources of plausibly exogenous variation: 1) policy discontinuities along state borders and 2) variation within states in collective bargaining laws in states where the majority of public workers are without collective bargaining rights. Findings show that mandatory collective bargaining laws increase public-sector wages by approximately 5 to 8 percentage points. Results therefore suggest that mandatory collective bargaining laws provide a formal mechanism through which public-sector workers are able to bargain for increased compensation.

What do government unions do? Public sector unions and nonunion wages, 1977–2015

Source: Jake Rosenfeld, Patrick Denice, Social Science Research, Volume 78, February 2019
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From the abstract:
In this article we investigate the connection between public sector union memberships and nonunion worker pay. We leverage nearly four decades of Current Population Survey (CPS) data on millions of U.S. workers to test whether public sector union density, measured at the state-level, is associated with higher average wages among unorganized workers. We find stable and substantively large positive effects of state-level public sector union strength on nonunion public sector workers’ wages. These results are robust to the inclusion of a range of state-level controls, including GDP, average educational attainment, public sector size, and the strength of private sector unions. Analyses of public sector unions and nonunion private sector pay reveal a robust positive relationship – but one limited to women, revealing how occupational segregation interacts with pay-setting institutions to influence wage outcomes.