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Thanks to the massive corporate-and-Republican war on unions, the portion of women belonging to unions has fallen from 18 percent in 1983 to 11.8 percent in 2012. That's very bad news for women, considering the advantages they get from union membership. Take wages:

All else equal, being in a union raises a woman's pay as much as a full year of college does. For the average female worker, a four-year college degree boosts  wages by over half (51.9 percent) relative to a similar woman who has only a high school degree. In comparison, unionization raises a woman’s pay by 14.7 percent – over one-quarter of the effect of a college degree
According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research's issue brief on women and unions, women who are in unions earn an average of 12.9 percent more than similar women who are not in unions. Being a union member provides a wage boost equivalent to a year of college. When it comes to having employer-provided health insurance, being a union member provides women even more of a boost than having a four-year college degree:
And retirement plans have the largest union advantage of all, with union membership raising a woman's chances of having an employer-provided retirement plan more than a college degree.

Why the advantage? Because the vast majority of corporate bosses are not going to give workers things like decent wages and benefits if workers don't have the strength in numbers to make it happen.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 08:24 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Sexism and Patriarchy, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I will never understand the public's antipathy (11+ / 0-)

    toward unions. Never.

    Have we, as a society, become so susceptible to propaganda and marketing that something that should be so incredibly obvious (such as the advantages to union membership) is simply invisible now?

    If so, I weep for the future. We've become too damn dumb to survive.

    •  Monkey-brainedness (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raptavio, Dirtandiron

      And 30 years of one sided bad PR against them.

      It's like the article that I never got around to writing pointing out similarities between a Dan Olweus type of mobbing and the vilification of the union over the weekend that Hostess went under.

      Plus I think that sort of high schoolish cliquish manipulation against the uncools on a national level is a big thing behind Fox and Talk Radio and the Winger side of the Internet operate.

      "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

      by Stude Dude on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 08:54:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not at all? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jfdunphy, MGross

      There is nothing about the history of unions that makes them appear less than heroic?

      •  Of course there is. (5+ / 0-)

        Yet, as with so many furshlugginer things about our politics, whether they're 'heroic' or not isn't the furshlugginer issue.

        The issue is whether or not they serve their purpose of helping ensure better compensation and better protections for workers.

        "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

        by raptavio on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 09:34:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Any entity that controls power is susceptible to (8+ / 0-)

        corruption and misuse.

        The real question is whether you would prefer that power to be in the hands of the workers or the employers.

        Would you prefer all power be lodged in the hands of the employers? If not, then you are acknowledging the purpose and power of union membership. Past misuses of that power do nothing to detract from that purpose and power, and using arguments that do nothing but point at such misuses is implicitly arguing for employer control.

        A bumpersticker I saw yesterday sums it up quite nicely:


        Which side are you on?

        •  Who wields power (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk, MGross

          is not the question you presented. You said that you do not understand the public's antipathy towards unions.

          I will never understand the public's antipathy toward unions. Never.
          And a large part of the answer is the very corruption and misuse that you acknowledge. Not difficult at all to understand.
    •  Propaganda and Marketing (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stude Dude, tikkun, emal, JeffW, James Allen
      Have we, as a society, become so susceptible to propaganda and marketing that something that should be so incredibly obvious (such as the advantages to union membership) is simply invisible now?
      In a word, yes. The anti union corporations and their lapdogs in the media convince people to identify with the wealthy more than their neighbors and coworkers. Also the transition to risky defined contribution benefit plans makes people think of themselves as investors, not workers.

      Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

      by Dirtandiron on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 10:05:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And it's been bad marketing on our part (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron, JeffW, Stude Dude

        My very capitalist father made it clear to his children that you don't gamble in the Wall Street Casino till you have your foundation completely built.  I bought mutual, whole life policies, houses and other non Wall Street investment products to stabilize my personal economy and I put money in a union pension plan.  With all of that in place, I can now afford to play a percentage of my income in the Wall Street Casino.

        Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

        by tikkun on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 10:44:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Private-sector unions have collapsed unfortunately (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, jfdunphy

    In 2012, just 6.6% of private-sector workers were part of a union... without a decisive change in policy like EFCA, it will be hard to turn this around. Which is sad, given that unions can provide workers with better wages and benefits than they could otherwise hope to receive. Even some retail giants like Safeway have managed to reach good contracts.

    •  History (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron, scott jones

      This country has historically been averse to unions and union movements, not just the capitalists but workers too.  Some of it of course is race; white privilege and pride in "skin color" being used to divide workers.   Some of it the "myth" of individualism, Horatio Alger, worship of private property, no matte how little of it one had.
      This is nothing new.

      •  actually, unions used to be bastions of racism (0+ / 0-)

        and sexism in many cases. IIRC, the craft unions -- guilds often excluded women and people of color. In fact, the "Plumber Joe" types in the late sixties were white male union members who heartily disliked minorities, were virulently anti-communist, and voted Republican. Teamsters and Air Traffic Controllers and other unions were big Republican supporters.  They were Nixon's "Silent Majority." The 1970 movie "Joe" was an expression of this, with the factory worker character "Joe" as the symbol of this group.
        I think unions, like various professions, lost power when they ceased to be mainly white male. Doctors now have far less power than they used to and of course the medical profession is no longer exclusively white male (about 1/3 of U.S. doctors are women, and recent medical graduates are now about 50/50 male & female).

        While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

        by Tamar on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 11:35:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  True, Republicans did support labor unions once (0+ / 0-)

          Contrast the 1956 GOP platform: "Labor

          Under the Republican Administration, as our country has prospered, so have its people. This is as it should be, for as President Eisenhower said: "Labor is the United States. The men and women, who with their minds, their hearts and hands, create the wealth that is shared in this country—they are America."

          The Eisenhower Administration has brought to our people the highest employment, the highest wages and the highest standard of living ever enjoyed by any nation. Today there are nearly 67 million men and women at work in the United States, 4 million more than in 1952. Wages have increased substantially over the past 3 1/2 years; but, more important, the American wage earner today can buy more than ever before for himself and his family because his pay check has not been eaten away by rising taxes and soaring prices.

          The record of performance of the Republican Administration on behalf of our working men and women goes still further. The Federal minimum wage has been raised for more than 2 million workers. Social Security has been extended to an additional 10 million workers and the benefits raised for 6 1/2 million. The protection of unemployment insurance has been brought to 4 million additional workers. There have been increased workmen's compensation benefits for longshoremen and harbor workers, increased retirement benefits for railroad employees, and wage increases and improved welfare and pension plans for federal employees.

          In addition, the Eisenhower Administration has enforced more vigorously and effectively than ever before, the laws which protect the working standards of our people.

          Workers have benefited by the progress which has been made in carrying out the programs and principles set forth in the 1952 Republican platform. All workers have gained and unions have grown in strength and responsibility, and have increased their membership by 2 millions.

          Furthermore, the process of free collective bargaining has been strengthened by the insistence of this Administration that labor and management settle their differences at the bargaining table without the intervention of the Government. This policy has brought to our country an unprecedented period of labor-management peace and understanding.

          We applaud the effective, unhindered, collective bargaining which brought an early end to the 1956 steel strike, in contrast to the six months' upheaval, Presidential seizure of the steel industry and ultimate Supreme Court intervention under the last Democrat Administration.

          The Eisenhower Administration will continue to fight for dynamic and progressive programs which, among other things, will:

          Stimulate improved job safety of our workers, through assistance to the States, employees and employers;

          Continue and further perfect its programs of assistance to the millions of workers with special employment problems, such as older workers, handicapped workers, members of minority groups, and migratory workers;

          Strengthen and improve the Federal-State Employment Service and improve the effectiveness of the unemployment insurance system;

          Protect by law, the assets of employee welfare and benefit plans so that workers who are the beneficiaries can be assured of their rightful benefits;

          Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of Sex;

          Clarify and strengthen the eight-hour laws for the benefit of workers who are subject to federal wage standards on Federal and Federally-assisted construction, and maintain and continue the vigorous administration of the Federal prevailing minimum wage law for public supply contracts;

          Extend the protection of the Federal minimum wage laws to as many more workers as is possible and practicable;

          Continue to fight for the elimination of discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry or sex;

          Provide assistance to improve the economic conditions of areas faced with persistent and substantial unemployment;

          Revise and improve the Taft-Hartley Act so as to protect more effectively the rights of labor unions, management, the individual worker, and the public. The protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and permanent policy of the Eisenhower Administration. In 1954, 1955 and again in 1956, President Eisenhower recommended constructive amendments to this Act. The Democrats in Congress have consistently blocked these needed changes by parliamentary maneuvers. The Republican Party pledges itself to overhaul and improve the Taft-Hartley Act along the lines of these recommendations."

          and the 2012 one: "The current Administration has chosen a different path with regard to labor, clinging to antiquated notions of confrontation and concentrating power in the Washington offices of union elites. It has strongly supported the anti-business card check legislation to deny workers a secret ballot in union organizing campaigns and, through the use of Project Labor Agreements, barred 80 percent of the construction workforce from competing for jobs in many stimulus projects. The current Administration has turned the National Labor Relations Board into a partisan advocate for Big Labor, using threats and coercion outside the law to attack businesses and, through “snap elections” and “micro unions,” limit the rights of workers and employers alike.
          We will restore the rule of law to labor law by blocking “card check,” enacting the Secret Ballot Protection Act, enforcing the Hobbs Act against labor violence, and passing the Raise Act to allow all workers to receive well-earned raises without the approval of their union representative. We demand an end to the Project Labor Agreements; and we call for repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act, which costs the taxpayers billions of dollars annually in artificially high wages on government projects. We support the right of States to enact Right-to-Work laws and encourage them to do so to promote greater economic liberty. Ultimately, we support the enactment of a National Right-to-Work law to promote worker freedom and to promote greater economic liberty. We will aggressively enforce the recent decision by the Supreme Court barring the use of union dues for political purposes without the consent of the worker.
          We salute the Republican Governors and State legislators who have saved their States from fiscal disaster by reforming their laws governing public employee unions. We urge elected officials across the country to follow their lead in order to avoid State and local defaults on their obligations and the collapse of services to the public. To safeguard the free choice of public employees, no government at any level should act as the dues collector for unions. A Republican President will protect the rights of conscience of public employees by proposing legislation to bar mandatory dues for political purposes."

        •   Because the government under Nixon was pitting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the traditional Democratic constituencies of labor and minorities against one another, trying to drive a wedge as a political tactic. Read the book "Wars of Attrition" by Marc Linder. I don't have it in front of me, so I can't quote you the page numbers.

          Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

          by Dirtandiron on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 12:22:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And I don't think it's fair to paint us all as (0+ / 0-)


          Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

          by Dirtandiron on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 12:41:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not sure what you mean by "us all." If you (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            think I meant all unions or union members, I didn't mean that at all. I think there were plenty of progressive unions, e.g., the very progressive UAW; the ILGWU, a venerable union started by women; and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters organized by Black Americans.
            I was just noting the irony of the change in unions from so many of them being white, male and conservative in the late 60's & 70's to now being much more diverse and progressive.

            While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

            by Tamar on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 03:46:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Who are the public sector corporate bosses? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the vast majority of corporate bosses are not going to give workers things like decent wages and benefits
    The reason the public has turned on Unions is that public sector unions are different than private sector, but they pretend to be the same.

    A union member today is most likely a public employee.  When those unions demand more money and benefits, they pit the vulnerable (students, transit riders etc) against the taxpayer.   There is NO PROFIT and NO GREEDY CORPORATE BOSS in the picture.

    •  nope, that's the propaganda. The propaganda, (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      scott jones, Crider, JeffW, jbsoul, Dirtandiron

      from people like Scott Walker in WI, is what pits public employees against other members of the public. It's just like the propaganda against "entitlements." Use that word and make the public think these are Romney's "takers," not people like themselves. When I've gotten into arguments with people who want to cut entitlements, they are shocked at the idea of cuts to Medicare or Social Security, and they seem unaware that a cut to Medicaid means their elderly relatives might have to move in with them. They think "entitlements" means free money to the lazy and undeserving, not payments to themselves and their relatives.
      Public employees aren't draining the governments of money -- but Republicans like Gov Walker who give huge tax breaks to corporations and who pay off their buddies with prime contracts are siphoning off public money to make their friends and themselves richer.

      While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

      by Tamar on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 11:41:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Where does the money come from? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        propaganda .. pits public employees against other members of the public
        A strike is a tool to force one group of people to hand money or benefits over to another group.   It is the public employee who initiates the strike AGAINST the public.   Its really very simple.

        Striking against the owners of Walmart, McDonalds or Ford is entirely different from striking against the employers of  public sector workers.

        I am very tired of being told that Public workers should get more money and benefits than I do, and that I should be happy to pay for it, and am some kind right wing mouth breather if I object to it.

        •  Did you ever think that maybe you're underpaid? (0+ / 0-)

          Not that the public employees are overpaid? Why should the massive purchasing power of the government be used to lower wages?

          Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

          by Dirtandiron on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 04:35:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  If private workers are underpaid (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Then we should lower public wages (that I pay for) to be commensurate with private workers.

            At such time that private workers stop being underpaid we can reassess public wages. Public workers can always quit for the private sector if they want.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 05:09:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  So, you want the massive purchasing power of (0+ / 0-)

              government to further lower wages? Do you think that will help with private wages?

              Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

              by Dirtandiron on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 06:07:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  What massive purchasing power (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                MGross, bobtmn

                I just want government services provided to those who are paying for it as cost effectively as possible.

                The government always must pay private sector wages or else people will quit for the private sector.

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 07:13:14 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Brilliant idea! We can call it Race to the Bottom! (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dirtandiron, Stude Dude

              If that doesn't work, we can always bring back slavery!

              •  Re (0+ / 0-)

                In the private sector we already have this anyway. Employers generally pay as little as they can get away with, and yet most of us make more than minimum wage somehow.

                No reason not to subject public workers to it as well. They are employed by us private workers after all. No reason they should get better pay or benefits than their employers.

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 11:15:16 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  And this is nothing like slavery (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Anyone can quit any job anytime they want.

                If they merely don't have a lot of other options, that's hardly slavery. Everyone has to work to survive.

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 11:17:53 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  don't think you're a "right wing mouth breather," (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dirtandiron, Stude Dude

          just that you've been taken in by the Republican rhetoric. Many states have drastically cut public jobs, have defrauded people out of their pensions, have negotiated lower wages and benefits at the same time as they've given huge tax breaks to big corporations, supposedly to increase jobs. Wisconsin is the perfect example of this and the jobs haven't appeared from these magical tax breaks.
          Public employees don't think they should have better benefits and pay than you do -- that's a false comparison. They want good benefits and salaries, something you deserve also.
          As for public money -- I would much rather my tax money go to pay decent salaries to teachers in my county than it go to tax breaks for companies who already don't pay much in taxes.
          BTW, I'm not a government employee.

          While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

          by Tamar on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 04:41:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Fair pay, fair teams (0+ / 0-)

            My objection to public employee unions is not directly to the pay and benefits they receive.

            It is that they have created a separate class of worker, one that can achieve personal financial goals by a combination of political action, voting, and strikes against a vulnerable public who depend on their services.    Public sector services are usually monopolies, and people have nowhere to turn when the busses, trains and schools shut down.

            By creating a "public sector class", they have left the rest of the workers behind.    The public sees the actions of the public unions, and they turn against unions entirely.

            The union that started this was PatCO .  They endorsed Reagan (along with the Teamsters and the Air Line Pilots Association) , then turned on the public by shutting down the air traffic system through an ILLEGAL strike.    That would be an act of war of the Soviet Union had done it.  Reagan responded the only way he could, firing them all and breaking the union.

            Reagan's victory over PatCo damaged not only the whole private sector union movement, but by elevating Reagan, damaged the rest of us who would like a civilized society that includes reliable public services.

  •  increase minimum wage (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, JeffW
  •  raise the base social security payments (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  recalculate COLA to reflect actual increasing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, Stude Dude

    costs of health insurance, fuel, food, utilities

  •  It's not just a help for Women! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, Tamar, scott jones, Crider, JeffW

    Unions are a help to everyone who is not in the 1%.

    My wife, daughter and granddaughters should have more privacy in their doctor's office than I have buying another rifle or shotgun.

    by NM Ray on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 11:03:17 AM PST

  •  Unions. ...or go all Bonnie Parker. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Nuclear Reactor = Dirty Bomb

    by olo on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 11:07:18 AM PST

  •  unions (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jbsoul, jfdunphy

    Americans have been conditioned to be a land of individuals which is rather easy to do as the human  ego takes to individualism like a duck takes to water.

    Capitalism left unchecked demands individualism.

    As far as unions they only have themselves to  blame as their leadership conducted shady deals under the carpet and  became like organizations never listening to their people.

    Unions are history what lies ahead for Americans is  gated communities of the 2%ers within a third world status. all the indicators are there but Americans like all empires in the past refuse to see the evidence.

    Visit Mexico city there you will see the future of America.

    The fastest growing jobs will be security guards for businesses and to guard rich kids from kidnapping for ransom demands and mercenaries to fight American wars for the American industrial and intelligence military complex.

    All empires if not defeated in a war self destruct from within and every empire thinks it is above history. every empire.

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