Did You Know: There May Be a Link Between Union Membership and the Economic Future of Children

We know that union membership in the workplace is at an historic low level. We have read about the efforts of some politicians to further weaken unions and, in doing so, strengthen the hand of management. Did you know the negative impact that might have on children?

Research conducted at Harvard University, Wellesley College and the Center for American Progress published in September concludes children who grow up in a home where a parent is a union member have a greater chance of upward economic mobility and financial success than children from nonunion homes.

In examining factors that impact the ability of a child to rise above his or her economic standing, the study concludes, “There are strong reasons to believe that unions may increase opportunity”.

The researchers indicate other reasons that could contribute to these findings.

  • Union workers make more money than comparable nonunion workers. In Ohio, during 2014 unionized workers earned $20.17 an hour compared to $15.27 for non-unionized workers (source).
  • Union jobs may be more stable and predictable, which could produce a more stable living environment.
  • Union jobs are more likely to provide family health insurance.

Some unions also have scholarship and training programs available for the children of their members which also contribute to upward mobility.

The study goes on to point out ways unions help boost the outlook for children from non-union families as well, finding “It has been shown that unions push up wages for nonunion workers, for example, and these wage gains for nonunion members could be passed on to their children. Children who grow up in nonunion households may also display more mobility in highly unionized areas, for example, because they may be able to join a union when they enter the labor market. Finally, unions generally advocate for policies that benefit all working people—such as minimum wage increases and increased expenditures on schools and public services—that may especially benefit low-income parents and their children.”

The study also found children of noncollege-educated fathers earn 28% more as adults if their father was in a labor union. They also attain higher education levels than their nonunion counterparts.

While the study does not prove causality between union membership and economic mobility, it does indicate the presence of a strong relationship existing between these factors.

The entire study is an interesting report that makes a case against current efforts to hamper or destroy unions. It shows these efforts could hurt the economy for generations to come.

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About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at http://calmc.org
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