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The Decline of Unions Costs Workers Thousands

A new study says the decline of unions has resulted in a 3-7% cut in wages

Kris LaGrange's picture
Aug 24, 2018

Over the last 50 years there has been a coordinated attack on union labor. Since 1958, union membership has fallen from 35% of the workforce to between 10 and 15% in the post-recession years. Over that same period of time income inequality has soared leading to an ever-increasing income gap.

Tom VanHeuvelen, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois, thought that these two factors might be connected and decided to take a look at what affect the loss of good union jobs has had on wages. His study, which can be found here, found that wages have been severely affected by the loss of unions and shockingly those affected the most are the non-union workers. The study found that the decline of unions has led to non-union workers wages decreasing by about 3-7%. For someone making $50,000 a year, that’s a $1,500 to $3,500 raise.

VanHeuvelen found that even though these workers were not represented by a union, organized labors power to fight for better contracts and lobby for things like a higher minimum wage and more safety net protections help everyone. As the old saying goes, a rising tide raises all ships.  As CEO’s get richer and working people continue to see their wages stagnate, maybe some will wake up and fight for that 3% raise.

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