Organized labor has been through a tough half-century, as deindustrialization, economic deregulation, and an all-out right-wing attack have decimated union membership across the country. But new research shows how the benefits of organized labor extend far beyond union members’ paychecks: Unions also help fortify the social safety net and push workers’ families and communities toward long-term self-sufficiency.
According to a study by University of Minnesota researchers on the effects of union membership on Uncle Sam’s balance sheets, unionized workers overall contribute more in tax revenue, rely less on welfare, and secure more sustainable jobs. The analysis, which tracks tax and income data from 1994 to 2015, shows a clear immediate payoff: union members’ average yearly income (about $48,000) is roughly $7,400, or 16 percent, more than what nonunion workers earn. In turn, these higher-earning workers also depend less on benefits like food stamps or cash assistance.
Surveying wage trends from 1994 to 2015, for workers and the public purse, “union membership raises private income, lowers public-benefit use, and increases taxes paid, yielding a positive net fiscal impact.” Adding up the net worth of federal benefits programs, including unemployment [More]