Written by Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Brandon Weathersby
Wednesday, 07 September 2016 09:32
A new study shows that if unions were stronger, wages would be higher for union members and nonmembers alike.
MADISON - A new study from the Economic Policy Institute finds the decimation of Unions, as we have seen in Wisconsin, has led to a decline in wages for all workers - union members and non members alike. Organized labor promotes good wages for all employees by creating competition across the job market. We must stop the assault we have seen from Republicans on unions and recognize they play a key role wage growth.
Millions of Americans today earn less than their predecessors did 40 years ago, adjusted for inflation, and a big reason for that is declining private-sector union membership — which has dropped from a third of all private-sector employees to just 6.7 percent today.
A new study released today by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for people of low and middle income, has attempted to quantify how much today’s nonunion workers would have benefitted if union membership remained as at the levels of 1979. The main takeaway: The typical full-time private-sector worker — whether a union member or not — would be making thousands of dollars more a year now if unions had the power they once did to influence a state’s or region’s standard wages and benefits packages.
“There’s a stereotype that unions only help union workers, but we found that the decline of union membership has had a vast effect on nonunion workers,” one of the study’s co-authors Jake Rosenfeld told Salon.
They looked at both urban and rural regions of the country as well as areas with strong and weak union representation to gain a better perspective on how declining union numbers affect nonunion working men and women as well as those workers with some higher education and those with just a high school diploma or less. The researchers adjusted the data to account for fluctuations in employment demand as a result of technological innovation and globalization factors.
One of the the study’s main findings is that working-age men without high school diplomas have been hurt the most in comparison with such workers nearly four decades ago: They are earning nearly $3,200 less a year than their 1979 counterparts would be, if the levels of union membership then are taken into account. And the typical working male with a college degree today is earning $2,700 less in annual pay contrasted with his peer of 1979 .
For women, Rosenfield’s analysis was trickier. The 1970s saw a huge rise in the number of women graduating with college degrees and entering the workforce in droves. But even to this day women are prevalent inlower-paying, nonunion jobs, working as wait staff, caretakers and cashiers. So compared with men their hypothetical losses aren’t as steep. They’re earning $728 less a year today than they would be if unions were as strong today as they were in 1979.
While wage decline has resulted from workers’ being pushed out of traditionally higher-paying manufacturing jobs into service-industry work, that’s not the only issue, Rosenfeld said. “We’ve seen erosion in wages in an industry like construction, which is not exportable to other countries and it’s hard to automate,” he said. “You can see a similar effect in trucking as well where wages and working conditions have eroded.”
These states also tend to extend more progressive worker-friendly policies, like mandating paid sick leave to hourly workers. Rosenfeld also pointed to the Fight for $15 movement, backed by the Service Employees International Union. With the help of activists and organizers, the movement has played an important role keeping the minimum wage debate alive nationally, he said. Wage floors in Massachusetts and California hit $10 an hour this year while more than a dozen states are implementing increases this year and in the coming years. More than 50 cities already have minimum hourly wages above the federal standard of $7.25.
The federal minimum wage in 1970s, if it were adjusted for inflation for today, was nearly $10 an hour. (For that matter, the federal minimum wage in 1968, when factoring in today’s inflation, would be more than $11 an hour.) People receiving such pay are might be employed in service-sector jobs or manufacturing jobs that pay so little that they depend on social assistance even if they’re working or are reluctant to leave a job to lose the meager employer benefits.
But even Ikenson of the Cato Institute acknowledges the role that unions play in sustaining wages. “I rarely agree with what the [Economic Policy Institute] says, but I would agree that the erosion of union membership has had a downward effect on wages,” said Ikenson, adding, however, “Unions might bring higher wages and better conditions, but also less demand. In the U.S. federalist system, we have 50 experiments with policy going on at the same time, and all of these states are competing with each other for investment.”
Group to improve the everyday lives of workers and entrepreneurs by assisting in correcting critical issues now slowing Wisconsin’s economy.
MADISON - The Democratic Party of Wisconsin announced the formation The Wisconsin Business Advisory Council, a group who’s ultimate goal is to improve the everyday lives of our workforce and entrepreneurs by assisting in correcting critical issues slowing Wisconsin’s economy, during a news conference Thursday.
"Wisconsin is home to great progressive business leaders who know that good business fosters local hiring, supports Wisconsin’s workforce, and ultimately increases incomes and wages for hard-working families,” said DPW Chair Martha Laning on Thursday. "By bringing these leaders together to discuss critical issues, we can continue our efforts to return Wisconsin’s economy to work for everyone - not just the billionaires and wealthy special interests.”
The Wisconsin Business Advisory Council is an non-partisan informal advisory group, offering progressive ideas and feedback to Democratic Party leaders and officials across the state.
The group, which is open to any business leader who is committed to supporting progressive principles in the workplace, is comprised of over twenty-five industry leaders from across Wisconsin. Some initial members include Tom Riordan President at Maple Ridge Farms, Inc and Ed Zieve President of Kees Inc.
Participating in the press call were Martha Laning, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Mark Gehring, Co-founder and Chief Stratedgy Officer at HealthMyne, and Bill Holahan, Emeritus Professor of Economics, UW-Milwaukee.
Grants Awarded to Help Rural Businesses Create Jobs and Increase Economic Opportunities. $20 Million Awarded Nationwide.
STEVEN POINT, WI - Last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack awarded nearly $20 million through 385 grants to help support the start-up or expansion of rural small businesses. Ten of the grants, totaling $575,000, are being awarded to organizations serving rural Wisconsin.
“These grants will strengthen the economic fabric of our rural small towns and communities by providing capital to small and emerging businesses,” Vilsack said.
USDA is awarding the grants through the Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) program. Recipients may use the funds to provide technical assistance, training, and job-creation activities.
Wisconsin projects include:
Easter Seals Wisconsin, Inc. (Madison) - $21,000 grant to work one on one with disabled entrepreneurs to evaluate their self-employment ideas for potential start-up businesses.
Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council Inc. (Lac Du Flambeau) - $99,999 grant to provide technical assistance to Native American business owners of eight Wisconsin Tribes.
Indianhead Community Action Agency, Inc. (Ladysmith) - $47,975 grant to provide technical assistance and training to small and emerging businesses in northwestern Wis.
NiiJii Capital Partners, Inc. (Keshena) - $73,800 grant to provide technical assistance to Native American business owners of three Wisconsin Tribes.
Northwoods NiiJii Enterprise Community, Inc. (Lac Du Flambeau) - $99,000 grant to provide technical assistance to Native American artists and performers owning small and emerging businesses of three Wisconsin Tribes.
Oconto County Economic Development Corporation, Inc. (Oconto) – Two grants; a $44,012 grant to establish a revolving loan fund to assist small and emerging businesses in in Oconto County and a $21,000 grant to conduct a feasibility study for a business incubator facility.
Vernon Economic Development Association (Viroqua) - $43,680 grant to provide technical assistance to small, rural businesses located in the Food Enterprise Center in Viroqua, WI.
Wisconsin Business Innovation Corporation (Spooner) - $57,500 grant to provide technical assistance to help small and emerging private businesses in northwestern Wis.
Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (Milwaukee) - $67,034 grant to technical assistance to help small and emerging private businesses in a 12-county area of the state.
Funding of each award announced today is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.
USDA’s Rural Business Development Grant Program is one of several that support rural economic development. Since the start of the Obama administration, USDA’s Rural Business & Cooperative Programs have helped 85,000 rural businesses.
USDA Rural Development’s funding continues to have a dramatic impact on rural communities across Wisconsin. Since 2010, USDA Rural Development has invested more than $3.5 billion on essential public facilities, small and emerging businesses, water and sewer systems, and housing opportunities in rural Wisconsin communities.
USDA Rural Development’s mission is to deliver programs in a way that will support increasing economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of rural residents. As the lead federal agency for rural development needs, USDA Rural Development can help rural communities and regions grow and prosper by offering a variety of financial and technical assistance programs that encourage the development of strong community and economic development strategies.
During this past year, USDA Rural Development’s $571 million investment in Wisconsin helped create or retain nearly 1,380 jobs, aided 3,600 families in buying their own homes and assisted more than 50 communities as they made improvements to their facilities, services and infrastructure.
Further information on USDA Rural Development is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting the web site at http://www.rd.usda.gov/wi.