“Join the union, and you’ll make more money!”

It’s a common refrain for unions trying to sell employees on the virtues of union representation. And now, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez has joined the chorus, authoring a blog post entitled, “Stronger Together: Your Voice in the Workplace Matters,” in which he claims that workers represented by unions earn $200 more weekly than non-union workers. He wrote:

“According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings for union members last year were $200 a week more than for non-union workers. That’s not pocket change — $200 a week is the difference between paying the bills and worrying about whether the lights will go out.”

However, Diana Furchtgott-Roth of MarketWatch in her September 2, 2015 article, “Opinion: Workers don’t do better in unions,” disputes Secretary Perez’s claim. In brief, she notes the following

  • Fact: 40% of all union workers are government employees. Perez’s data does not separate public and private sector workers. This is significant because “union members are more concentrated in higher-paying” public sector jobs, .
  • Fact: Union workers tend to be older, and thus earn more money as a result of their seniority
  • Fact: More union workers are located in the Northeast where wages are higher to account for the higher cost of living. A worker in Georgia earns less than one in New York, but the cost of living is less there.
  • Fact: With the exception of government workers, jobs in unionized industries are shrinking. Employment in the construction industry, for example, which has a higher percentage of unionized workers, has declined by 13% in the past ten years.
  • Fact: In the professional and business services industry, where there is job growth, union workers earn less—an average of $113/week less.

That union workers earn more than their non-union counterparts may be the “conventional wisdom” in some parts, but it may be a misconception – one that unions don’t hesitate to perpetuate. Organizations whose employees are presented with a union claim that union representation inevitably will increase their “bottom line” may find this analysis helpful in debunking that myth.

 

 

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Photo of Howard M. Bloom Howard M. Bloom

Howard M. Bloom is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has practiced labor and employment law representing exclusively employers for more than 36 years.

Mr. Bloom counsels clients in a variety of industries on labor law issues.

Howard M. Bloom is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has practiced labor and employment law representing exclusively employers for more than 36 years.

Mr. Bloom counsels clients in a variety of industries on labor law issues. He trains and advises executives, managers and supervisors on union awareness and positive employee relations, and assists employers in connection with union card-signing efforts, traditional union representation and corporate campaigns, and union decertification campaigns. He also represents clients at the National Labor Relations Board in connection with bargaining unit issues, objections and challenges, as well as unfair labor practice investigations and trials. Mr. Bloom also has been the spokesperson at countless first and successor contract collective bargaining negotiations, and regularly advises on collective bargaining agreement administration issues, including grievance/arbitration issues.

Mr. Bloom has appeared before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, several U.S. District Courts, the National Labor Relations Board, the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

Mr. Bloom speaks frequently to employer groups on a wide range of labor and employment law topics. He also has written extensively on labor and employment law for a variety of publications, including New England Business magazine, The Boston Globe and the Boston Business Journal. He also is editor of and a frequent contributor to the Jackson Lewis Labor & Collective Bargaining Blog.

While attending law school, he was the Executive Editor of The Advocate: the Suffolk University Law School Journal and President of the Student Bar Association.

Mr. Bloom is a diehard baseball fan. His first book, The Baseball Uncyclopedia: A Highly Opinionated Myth-Busting Guide to the Great American Game, was published in February 2006.

Photo of Philip B. Rosen Philip B. Rosen

Philip B. Rosen is a Principal in the New York City office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and a member of the Firm’s Management Committee. Mr. Rosen also leads the firm’s Labor Practice Group. He joined the Firm in 1979 and served as Managing…

Philip B. Rosen is a Principal in the New York City office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and a member of the Firm’s Management Committee. Mr. Rosen also leads the firm’s Labor Practice Group. He joined the Firm in 1979 and served as Managing Partner of the New York City office from 1989 to 2009.

Mr. Rosen lectures extensively, conducts management training, and advises clients with respect to legislative and regulatory initiatives, corporate strategies, business ethics, social media, reorganizations and reductions-in-force, purchase/sale transactions, sexual harassment and other workplace conduct rules, compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, wrongful discharge and other workplace litigation, corporate campaigns and union organizing matters, collective bargaining, arbitration and National Labor Relations Board proceedings. He has been quoted by the press on many labor matters, including the National Labor Relations Board’s recent initiatives on protected concerted activity and the proposed Notice Posting requirements.