Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Every Boom: the Result of Unions; Every Recession: the Result of Not Enough Unions

American Rights at Work’s (ARAW) December 2008 study, The Employee Free Choice Act: Ensuring the Economy Works for Everyone, takes credit for anything good that has ever happened to the American worker regardless of how the facts stack up.

Now, let’s get to debunking ARAW’s report with a few simple stats.

1. “From 2000 to 2007, income for the median working-age household actually dropped by $2,000 after inflation.”

This is nothing new. There are these events called recessions –ever heard of them. Besides this period, there was also median income stagnation from 53-54, 57-58, 70-71, 73-77, 79-85, and 89-93. Notice that many of these years are the “good old days” of unions.

2. “This stagnation of median wages despite the rise in productivity is linked in large part to the decline in union density. In 1960, private sector union membership was 30%; by 2007, it had dropped to 7.5%. As unions declined, both union and non-union workers lost the economic benefits of collective bargaining.”

Oh jeez. Here we go again. First off, overall the wages haven’t stagnated. The median income in 2007 dollars for a U.S. family has increased from $34,432 in 1960 to $61,355 in 2007. That’s $26,923 or a 78.2 percent increase. Under normal circumstances, I would say they were being deceptive. But, I know these researchers are well meaning people. They probably just mixed up Zimbabwe’s median income stats with the U.S. It happens.

Also on this point, how do unions explain the jump from $52,223 in 1993 to $61,083 in 2000, a 17 percent increase? Were union rates rising during that period? Nope. Falling as usual.

The study finishes off with the usual: everyone wants to join a union but can’t because of intimidation according to (union-funded) research. Nothing new to read here.

Categories: Center for Union FactsEFAC