Unionized women command higher wages, US report

A new report reveals that unionized women – US female workers who belong to or are represented by unions – are paid significantly more and receive better benefit packages from their employers than their non-unionized counterparts.

The report, released on 9 December, is a new issue brief from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), in Washington DC.

The brief also reveals that by 2023, unionized women will outnumber men in the unionized American workforce.

In the report, titled Women Workers and Unions, economists John Schmitt and Nicole Woo, examine the most recent available data and analyze the effect that being in or represented by a union has on pay and benefits of female employees.

Unionized women get more money and benefits

Even after they took out the effect of potential influencers like age, race, industry sector, educational attainment and state of residence, their analysis shows that unionized women receive a substantially higher boost in pay and benefits compared to non-union equivalents.

They find that compared to non-unionized counterparts, unionized female workers:

  • Earn on average 12.9% more,
  • Are 36.8% more likely to have health insurance provided by their employer, and
  • Are 53.4% more likely to have an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

The differences were particularly marked among women with less formal education.

For instance, regardless of level of education, women in unions are more likely to be receiving employee benefits, but the effect is greatest among those women with less formal education.

Rate of unionization is falling

However, this scenario is gradually changing, as Ms. Woo explains:

“Women are on track to become the majority of the union workforce in 10 years, but their rate of unionization is dropping, along with that of men.”

“Considering the great boost to pay and benefits that unions bring, it’s important that anyone who cares about the wellbeing of women workers also care about unions,” she urges.

It has been 50 years since the Commission on the Status of Women, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, and whose members included then attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, attorney Marguerite Rawalt, and economist Richard Lester, released its report on the state of American women.

The Commission was charged with giving recommendations for overcoming sex discrimination by government and private employers, and with recommending services to enable women to continue “their role as wives and mothers while making a maximum contribution to the world around them.”