Study: Working Women Need Unions


December 11, 2013

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A record 67.5 million women are working today, but many women suffer from low-pay and a gender-based wage gap that makes it hard to get by.


The solution, according to a recent study: more female union members.

“Even after controlling for factors such as age, race, industry, educational attainment and state of residence, the data show a substantial boost in pay and benefits for female workers in unions relative to their non-union counterparts,” write John Schmitt and Nicole Woo of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “The effect is particularly strong on women with lower levels of formal education.”

Schmitt and Woo are authors of “Women Workers and Unions,” a CEPR issue brief that examines the effects of union membership on women workers.

Their research finds that unionization raised women’s wages by 12.9 percent – or about $2.50 per hour. In fact, being in a union raised a women’s pay as much as a full year of college.

“For the average female worker, a four-year college degree boosts wages by over half,” they write. “In comparison, unionization raised a woman’s pay over one-quarter the effect of a college degree.”

Unionized female workers are also more like to have decent health insurance and retirement benefits, Women union members are 53 percent more likely to have a pension.

Click here to read more.