Joining a union could mean making more than $1 million throughout one’s career – at least for men.
That’s according to a study published Saturday by the Cornell University Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) Review.
To study the financial impact of union membership, researchers turned to a sample of men from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from 1969 to 2019.
“They find, first, that unionization throughout one’s career is associated with a $1.3 million mean increase in lifetime earnings, larger than the average gains from completing college,” said the study abstract.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership was down last year with 14 million wage and salary workers belonging to unions. At that time, the union membership rate was 10.3%, down from 10.8% in 2020.
“In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1% and there were 17.7 million union workers,” said the BLS.
While union membership appeared to be trending down in 2021, unions have been making headlines this year. In Chicago alone, several Starbucks locations joined an effort to unionize.
“Workers at the Starbucks on Bryn Mawr and Winthrop sent a letter to Howard Shultz, interim Starbucks CEO,” WBBM reported in April. “That makes them the sixth Chicago area store to have employees announce their goal to join Workers United, an SEIU affiliate.”
Barista Rachel Simandl, one of the people who signed the letter, told WBBM that “there’s been a lot of changes that we’ve wanted to see happen over the past couple of years that really haven’t happened.”
Authors of the recent study said that research regarding labor union earnings premiums generally investigates their size through point-in-time estimates. However, their study “posits, by contrast, that point-in-time estimates of the union premium overlook the cumulative earnings advantages of long-term, persistent union membership.”
Also, the study found that “lifetime earnings gains are channeled entirely through higher hourly wages and occur despite earlier-than-average retirement for persistently unionized men,” and that “the union wage premium is not constant throughout a worker’s career; instead it increases with more years of union membership.”
Overall, the researchers determined that “the cumulative advantages of union membership for workers’ economic well-being are far greater than point-in-time estimates,” covered in other studies might suggest.
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October 13, 2022 at 04:14PM