Monday, September 7, 2009

California Union Membership Up

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that

California unions gained 131,206 new members from July 2008 to June 2009, and the proportion of California workers belonging to unions has also jumped, according to a study being released today by UCLA's Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.

Some extracts from the report (emphasis ours):

  • [T]he more education workers had, the higher their unionization rate tended to be. Whereas decades ago the archetypal union member was a blue collar worker with limited education, today mid-level professionals are much more likely to be unionized than anyone else, especially in sectors like educational services and public administration. …[W]orkers in the educational services industry group alone made up over one-fourth of all unionized workers in the L.A. metropolitan area, the state of California, and the nation; similarly, public administration accounted for over one-eighth of union members in all three jurisdictions. Both these industry groups included relatively large numbers of college-educated workers, and … they had the highest unionization rates of all industry groups.
  • Union members … got paid about 20 percent more than nonunion workers in 2008-2009. In addition, union members also were far more likely to have access to benefits like retirement plans, medical insurance coverage, and paid sick leave than their nonunion counterparts.
  • [C]ontrary to the still conventional wisdom, men's unionization rate was not higher than that of women in either Los Angeles or in California. In California, the unionization rate for women was actually slightly higher than the unionization rate for men.
  • Unionization rates were highest for workers over 55 years old. … They were extremely low among the youngest workers, those aged 16-24, a pattern that was consistent across the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the state of California, and the nation. This age variation reflects the fact that unionized jobs, on the average, provide workers with substantially higher wages than do nonunion jobs. … Higher wages are typically associated with lower employee turnover, which generates an older workforce over time. In addition, unionized jobs generally offer more job security than nonunion jobs, which further reduces turnover and similarly contributes to an increase in the average age of unionized workers.


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