Unions and Wage Equality

The decrease in union power over the past thirty years coincides with increasing rates of wage and income inequality (Keister 16). The percentage of unionized males in the private sector dropped from 34% in 1973, to 8% in 2007, while wage inequality expanded by more than 40% in that same time period. One third of this increase in inequality is attributed to de-unionization (Western 513). At the height of their power, unions helped to enforce income equality even for non-union workers, as companies raised their wages either as a direct result of union pressure or in order to avoid the prospect of worker organization. Ultimately, unions enforced a morally accountable economy by fostering public awareness and impacting public policy, as well as established standards of fair compensation (Western 517).

Written By Morgan Ruff

Keister, Lisa A., and Hang Young Lee. “The One Percent: Top Incomes and Wealth in Sociological Research.” The Southern Sociological Society 1 (2014). Accessed July 22, 2016. doi:10.1177/2329496513510900.

Western, Bruce, and Jake Rosenfeld. “Unions, Norms, and the Rise in U.S. Wage Inequality.” American Sociological Review, 2011. Accessed July 22, 2016. doi:10.1177/0003122411414817.

Additional Materials

  1. Read about the campaign to pass the PRO Act here.
  2. Read about the U.S Postal Service during COVID-19 here.
  3. Read about U.S Postal service during the 2008 recession here.