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Unions Close Racial Pay Gap, CUNY Study Says

Daniel Hinton's picture
Sep 12, 2015

Researchers at the Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies at the City University of New York (CUNY) came out with a study last week showing that organizing non-white workers closes the racial wage gap. Professors Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce found that black union members had higher pay and more employer-sponsored benefits, such as health insurance and pensions.

The rate of unionization among black workers in New York City is very high compared to other cities and national statistics. For instance, among black workers who also reside in the city, almost 40 percent are organized. And black workers are twice as likely to be union members than non-black workers in the city. The numbers were even greater for foreign-born black workers. 

According to Milkman and Luce's study, union membership cut the racial pay gap in half.

"We knew it was better here, but the extent of that is surprising to even us," Dr. Milkman told The New York Times.

Union membership has been increasing as of late in New York City. The citywide unionization rate has been 25 percent for the past year, up from 20 percent in 2012. And New York State leads the nation in union membership rates, as well.

This spells good news for working people of all ethnicities and nationalities. When union membership grows, so does their power. And union power, as was shown in the study, typically translates into equal pay for equal work.

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