Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Across the Country, Unions Are Good for Workers, the Economy


Across the Country, Unions Are Good for Workers, the Economy

by Seth Michaels, Dec 19, 2008

As economic uncertainty continues, the incoming administration and Congress will be tasked not only with restoring the economy in the short term, but also with making it sustainable in the long term. That means making sure working families around the nantion have the benefits, wages and lasting economic security that comes with the freedom to form unions and bargain.

New reports by the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) show that state economies benefit from giving working families the power in the workplace and the wages, benefits and job security that come with the freedom to form a union.

CAPAF says:

Unions paved the way to the middle class for millions of workers and pioneered benefits such as paid health care and pensions along the way. Even today, union workers earn significantly more on average than their non-union counterparts, and union employers are more likely to provide benefits. And non-union workers—particularly in highly unionized industries—receive financial benefits from employers who increase wages to match what unions would win in order to avoid unionization.

CAPAF has reports examining what the effect of broader access to unions and bargaining would be in California, Louisiana, Maine, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

As CAPAF notes, the decline in union membership has corresponded to a decline in the share of economic growth that goes to working families. That means families are less able to afford housing and consumer goods and less likely to have health care coverage and retirement security. The weaknesses in our economy can be attributed to the failure to broadly share prosperity. To make the economy work for everyone, we need to pass the Employee Free Choice Act and restore the freedom to form unions and bargain with employers.

Workers in states like California, Louisiana, Maine, Pennsylvania and Virginia will benefit from the Employee Free Choice Act. It needs to be at the top of the agenda for the next Congress.