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Workers wrongly classified as independent contractors are also deprived of the right to unionize under U. These workers are thus unable to join together in a union to negotiate better terms and conditions with their employer.

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Misclassification is rampant in many industries such as food services and construction. The practice contributes to an economy where wages are flat, profits are soaring, and companies that do not arrange their businesses to avoid their employment responsibilities are disadvantaged. Unions provide a range of tangible benefits to their members, from contract and benefit administration and enforcement to legal services.

These services cost money. Rather, right-to-work laws simply prohibit contracts that require all workers who benefit from union representation to help pay for these benefits.

Fair share fees are just that. Under federal law, no one can be forced to join a union as a condition of employment. However, unions are required to represent all members of a bargaining unit, whether or not they are in the union. Nonunion workers also receive the higher wages and benefits their union coworkers enjoy. RTW laws weaken unions by eroding union funding and membership Figure D shows union density, as measured by shares of workers covered by collective bargaining, in RTW and fair share states.

Proponents of RTW laws say they boost investment and job growth but there is no serious evidence of that.


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While causal impacts of RTW laws are hard to estimate with statistical precision, there is ample evidence that RTW laws hurt all workers—not just union members. Six states have right-to-work laws that were enacted in the last five years in or later : Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. When state budget deficits increased after the Great Recession, business-backed governors in a number of states sought to curb the powers of public-sector unions by arguing that government unions were to blame.

In the public sector, there is a similar attack on collective bargaining playing out in the courts. In Abood v. The Court held that public-sector employees who elect not to join the union may be charged a fee to cover the cost of collective bargaining and contract administration.

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Fair share fees may not be used to support union political activities. These fair share fees ensure that all workers represented by the union pay their fair share of the cost of that representation. In , the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association which, among other things, addressed whether Abood should be overruled and public-sector fair share fee arrangements invalidated under the First Amendment.

On March 29, , the Supreme Court affirmed Abood by an equally divided 4—4 split. One of those cases, Janus v. Unions are a dynamic and ever-evolving institution of the American economy that exist to give working people a voice and leverage over their working conditions and the economic policy decisions that shape these conditions. Collective bargaining is indispensable if we want to achieve shared prosperity.

But it is precisely because they are effective and necessary for shared prosperity that unions are under attack by employers who want to maintain excessive leverage over workers and by policymakers representing the interests of the top 1 percent. These attacks have succeeded in increasing the gap between the number of workers who would like to be represented by a union and the number who are represented by a union. Giving workers a real voice and leverage is essential for democracy.

While unions historically have not been able to match corporate political donations dollar for dollar, working people organizing together in unions play an equalizing role because they can motivate members to give their time and effort to political causes. For example, one study found that unions are very effective at getting people to the polls—especially increasing voting among those with only a high school education. As this report has shown, unions—when strong—have the capacity to tackle some of the biggest problems that plague our economy, from growing economic inequality, wage stagnation, and racial and gender inequities to eroding democracy and barriers to civic participation.

Certainly, Americans of all ages, occupations, races, and genders have a vested interest in making sure our economy works for everyone. To promote an inclusive economy and a robust democracy, we must work together to rebuild our collective bargaining system. We are also thankful to Krista Faries for her excellent copy editing and to Margaret Poydock for laying out the report. The right of labor unions to gather is given under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects the right to exercise freedom of speech in peaceful protest.

The U. Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act NLRA in to protect the rights of employers and employees, including the right to form, join, or assist labor organizations and to bargain collectively. Americans of all ages broadly support the ability of workers in various sectors to unionize, with shares supporting unions ranging from 62 percent to 82 percent, depending on the sector.

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  • In there were Non-Hispanic white men make up As of , there are The breakdowns by race and ethnicity, gender, and occupations in this section focus on workers age 18 to 64 who are represented by a union, as do our estimates of union wage premiums advantages discussed later in the paper. Certain residual formulas in the pay TV and the subscription video-on-demand SVOD industries needed to be increased because they did not adequately reflect the value of the content created by WGA members. The WGA health fund had been running a deficit due to the rapid inflation in health care costs, and the WGA determined that the period of record profitability for the studios and networks was a good time to reverse the current trend to deficits with additional employer contributions.

    The National Labor Relations Board in reversed an earlier decision and ruled that graduate students could unionize in the private sector. The classic reference for the union impact on inequality, and many other matters, is Richard B. Freeman and James l. Medoff, What Do Unions Do? New York: Basic Books, Also see Brantly Callaway and William J. Press, , Table 4. From to , productivity rose The regression-based gap controls for gender, race and ethnicity, education, experience, geographic division, major occupation and industry, and citizenship.

    The log of the hourly wage is the dependent variable. The gap uses a five-year average of wages from to There are three groups of workers whose wages have been affected by the decline of unionization. First, there are the remaining union members, who according to research have experienced a decline in the earnings premium that comes from belonging to a union—a decline especially large for female members.

    For instance, the union wage premium fell over the to period by nearly a third for private-sector women. The estimates referenced are from Figure 3. Press, Workers not covered by unions—those who are neither in a union themselves nor covered by a union contract—are almost twice as likely 4. Union density is the share of workers in similar industries and regions who are union members.

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    For the The effects of union decline on the wages of nonunion women are not as substantial because women were not as likely to be unionized as men were in The 10 states that had the least erosion of collective bargaining saw their inflation-adjusted median hourly compensation grow by The 10 states that had the most erosion of collective bargaining saw their inflation-adjusted median hourly compensation grow by 5. Erosion is measured by the percentage-point decline in the share of workers in the state covered by a collective bargaining contract.

    Valerie Wilson and William M. The regression analysis producing this estimate controlled for education, experience, race, citizenship status, geographic division, industry, and occupation. Data are unadjusted for factors such as demographics and employer size. Department of Labor.

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    In , women made up Service occupations include protective service, food preparation and serving, healthcare support, building and grounds cleaning and maintenance, and personal care and service. EPI analysis of microdata from the Current Population Survey finds that hourly wages for black workers represented by unions are Hispanic workers represented by unions are paid While most white people are willing to admit that non-white people live with a set of disadvantages due to the colour of their skin, very few white people are willing to acknowledge the benefits they receive simply by being white.

    White privilege refers to the fact that dominant groups often accept their experience as the normative and hence, superior experience. White people can be assured that, most of the time, they will be dealing with authority figures of their own race. How many other examples of white privilege can you think of? Discrimination also manifests in different ways. The illustrations above are examples of individual discrimination, but other types exist. Institutional racism refers to the way in which racial distinctions are used to organize the policy and practice of state, judicial, economic, and educational institutions.

    As a result they systematically reproduce inequalities along racial lines. They define what people can and cannot do based on racial characteristics. It is not necessarily the intention of these institutions to reproduce inequality, nor of the individuals who work in the institutions.


    Rather inequality is the outcome of patterns of differential treatment based on racial or ethnic categorizations of people. Clear examples of institutional racism in Canada can be seen in the Indian Act and immigration policy, as we have already noted. The effects of institutional racism can also be observed in the structures that reproduce income inequality for visible minorities and aboriginal Canadians. The median income of aboriginal people in Canada was 30 percent less than non-aboriginal people in Wilson and Macdonald Institutional racism is also deeply problematic for visible minorities in Canada.

    Moreover, racialized Canadians earned only Those identifying as Chinese earned Block and Galabuzi argue that these inequalities in income are not simply the effect of the time it takes immigrants to integrate into the society and economy. The income inequality between racialized and non-racialized individuals remains substantial even into the third generation of immigrants. In the schools, they received substandard education and many were subject to neglect, disease, and abuse.

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    Many children did not see their parents again, and thousands of children died at the schools. When they did return home they found it difficult to fit in. They had not learned the skills needed for life on reserves and had also been taught to be ashamed of their native heritage. Because the education at the residential schools was inferior they also had difficulty fitting into non-aboriginal society.

    The residential school system was part of a system of institutional racism because it was established on the basis of a distinction between the educational needs of aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. As the Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded, the residential school system constituted a systematic assault on aboriginal families, children, and culture in Canada.

    Some have likened the policy and its aftermath to a cultural genocide Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Even with the public apology to residential school survivors and the inauguration of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in , the federal government, and the interests it represents, continue to refuse basic aboriginal claims to title, self-determination, and control over their lands and resources.

    Issues of race and ethnicity can be observed through three major sociological perspectives: functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism. As you read through these theories, ask yourself which one makes the most sense, and why. Is more than one theory needed to explain racism, prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination?

    In the view of functionalism, racial and ethnic inequalities must have served an important function in order to exist as long as they have. This concept, of course, is problematic. How can racism and discrimination contribute positively to society? Sociologists who adhere to the functionalist view argue that racism and discrimination do contribute positively, but only to the dominant group.