The US Department of the Treasury just released a comprehensive new report about labor relations and the middle class that affirms what the workers have been screaming out for at least 150 years now: unions are good for everyone.
The empirical research on unions suggests that middle-class workers reap substantial benefits from unionization. Unions raise the wages of their members by 10 to 15 percent. Unions also improve fringe benefits and workplace procedures such as retirement plans, workplace grievance policies, and predictable scheduling. These workplace improvements contribute substantially to middle-class financial stability and worker well-being. For example, one study has estimated that the average worker values their ability to avoid short-notice schedule changes at up to 20 percent of their wages.
Importantly, the positive effects of unions are not only experienced by workers at unionized establishments. Other workers see increases in wages and improved work practices as their nonunionized workplaces compete with unionized ones for labor. In turn, the higher pay and job security of both unionized and nonunionized middle-class workers can further spill over to their families and communities through more stable housing, more investment in education, and other channels.
The report adds that increased union membership ultimately helps to reduce wage gaps between people of different races and genders, improving egalitarianism and equity overall. This, in turn, leads to the conclusion that:
Unions contribute to more robust general economic growth and resilience. They do so, in part, by reducing overall inequality. Income inequality often feeds back into inequality of opportunity, which impedes growth if disadvantaged people cannot access the resources necessary to acquire job skills or start businesses. And unions can spur overall economic productivity by improving working environments and giving experienced workers more of an input into decisions that design better and more cost-effective workplace procedures.
The report breaks down plenty of data and statistics, if you want to drill down more into it. Suffice to say, there is ample evidence to support the idea that happier employees are typically more productive and less likely to quit, which in turn reduces the company's costs from turnovers and training. And of course, employees with more time and money (and ultimately freedom) are going to be able to spend that time and money in a way that contributed to a robust and active economy—instead of, say, a handful of shareholders hoarding all the cash in stocks and yachts where the money stays stagnant. The report even acknowledges that, while yes, strikes can lead to negative economic outcomes, those drawbacks tend to be temporary—and ultimately, these union actions lead to more positive long-term benefits. Which means that strikes do precisely what they're intended to do.
In other words: there is power in a union.
Labor Unions and the Middle Class [US Department of the Treasury]