October 17, 2021

Volume XI, Number 290

Advertisement
Advertisement

October 15, 2021

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

October 14, 2021

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis
Advertisement

Fuzzy Math May Be Basis For Labor Secretary’s Claim That Union Workers Earn More, Analysis Asserts

“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.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2021National Law Review, Volume V, Number 253
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

About this Author

Linda L. Ryan, Labor Law Attorney, Jackson Lewis Law Firm
Of Counsel

Linda L. Ryan is Of Counsel in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She practices exclusively employment and labor law representing employers, and has worked extensively with public sector and non-profit employers.

Ms. Ryan is a frequent speaker on employment related issues. Prior to attending law school she was the Assistant Human Resources Director for a large non-profit organization. During law school, she was a judicial clerk for the Hon. James Redford in the 17th Circuit Court, as well as a research...

616-940-0241
Howard Bloom, Jackson Lewis, labor union attorney, unfair practice investigations lawyer, employment legal counsel, bargaining law
Principal

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...

617-367-0025
Philip B. Rosen Jackson Lewis  Preventive Practices Lawyer & Collective Bargaining Attorney
Principal

Philip B. Rosen is a Principal in the New York City, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is a member of the firm's Board of Directors and co-leads the firm's Labor and Preventive Practices 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-...

212-545-4000
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement