There is a proven relationship between the level of union membership and the size of the American middle class.
For the last thirty-plus years, both have been moving downward. From 1979 to 2012, union membership in the United States fell by half. In the same period, the middle class shrank by over 10 percent.
Some of these losses were unavoidable. Technology and outsourcing have taken thousands of good jobs out of the US economy. But other losses, caused by employers and politicians hostile to unions and the power they give to working people, are being fought.
Today, unions are fighting, working and winning key battles in our effort to strengthen the working middle class. We are finding companies and industries where we have a good chance to get a foothold.
There is a lot at stake: when unions negotiate fair wages, benefits and safe conditions for workers, they raise members—and their families—from poverty to prosperity. All of this means the country does better, too, when membership is high and active.
- A union member earns $980 weekly.
- A non-union worker earns $776 weekly. *(Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor)
- A union worker makes $204 more every week.
- That’s $10,608 more every year.
Since union members earn more than their non-union peers who perform similar work and face less uncertainty than those whose economic security is totally at the mercy of their bosses, the differences are substantial. Family health costs, retirement and college educations become things not to be feared but planned for.
“Being a union member gives me safety in numbers. Together with my fellow employees, we start our negotiations from a position of strength. We don’t always get everything we want, but we make progress, consistent progress. This gives my family stability and us employees hope and strength for the future.”
UWUA Member, Local 1-2