Unionization Yields Significant Gains in Pay and Benefits for Women Workers

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Unionization Yields Significant Gains in Pay and Benefits for Women Workers

WASHINGTON - A new issue brief from the Center for Economic and Policy Research examines the most recent data available to investigate the impact that being in, or represented by, a union has on the wages and benefits of women in the paid workforce.

The issue brief, “Women Workers and Unions,” shows that even after controlling for factors such as age, race, industry, educational attainment and state of residence, women in unions receive a substantial boost in pay and benefits relative to their non-union counterparts. Unionized women workers on average make 12.9 percent more than their non-union counterparts, are 36.8 percent more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 53.4 percent more likely to have participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

At every education level, unionized women are more likely to have employee benefits than their non-union counterparts, but the effect is largest for women who have less formal education. In fact, for a woman with a high school degree, being in or represented by a union raises her likelihood of having health insurance or a retirement plan by more than earning a four-year college degree would.

“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 well-being of women workers also care about unions,” stated Nicole Woo, co-author of the brief.

Coming fifty years after the release of “American Women: Report of the Commission on the Status of Women.”  The commission, which was chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt and whose members included then attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, attorney Marguerite Rawalt, and economist Richard Lester, was given "the responsibility for developing recommendations for overcoming discriminations in government and private employment on the basis of sex and for developing recommendations for services which will enable women to continue their role as wives and mothers while making a maximum contribution to the world around them." Woo will be speaking on Tuesday, December 10, at a Department of Labor event commemorating the release of the commission's report.

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The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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