[U.S. workers have not given up on unions-a survey of the
workforce found interest in joining unions to be at a four-decade
high. But few workers who don’t belong to unions will get to join
one, since fewer than 1% will experience an organizing drive.]
[https://portside.org/] 

 WHO WANTS TO JOIN A UNION? A GROWING NUMBER OF AMERICANS  
[https://portside.org/2018-09-02/who-wants-join-union-growing-number-americans]


 

 Thomas Kochan, Duanyi Yang, Erin L. Kelly, Will Kimball 
 August 30, 2018
The Conversation
[https://theconversation.com/who-wants-to-join-a-union-a-growing-number-of-americans-102374]


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 _ U.S. workers have not given up on unions-a survey of the workforce
found interest in joining unions to be at a four-decade high. But few
workers who don’t belong to unions will get to join one, since fewer
than 1% will experience an organizing drive. _ 

 Fighting for a $15 an hour wage in Pittsburgh., AP Photo/Keith
Srakocic 

 

Only 10.7 percent
[https://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cpslutab3.htm] of American
workers belong to a union today, approximately half as many as in
1983. That’s a level not seen since the 1930s, just before passage
of the labor law that was supposed to protect workers’ right to
organize
[https://www.nlrb.gov/resources/national-labor-relations-act-nlra].

Yet American workers have not given up on unions. When we conducted
[https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=xjA-7UkAAAAJ&hl=en] a
nationally representative survey of the workforce
[http://gcgj.mit.edu/new-paper-worker-voice-appear-ilr-review] with
the National Opinion Research Corporation
[http://www.norc.org/Pages/default.aspx], we found interest
[https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=QfH1gOcAAAAJ&hl=en] in
joining unions to be at a four-decade high.

Four times higher

The results obtained from nearly 4,000 respondents show that 48
percent – nearly half of nonunionized workers – would join a union
if given the opportunity to do so.

That marks a sharp increase from about one-third of the workforce
expressing this preference in 1977
[https://www.jstor.org/stable/41840979?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents] and
1995
[https://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1026&context=books],
the last two times this question was asked on national surveys. The
scale of this change indicates that 58 million American workers would
want to join a union if they could, quadruple the number of current
union members.

A question of influence

One of the strongest predictors of who might join a union is the size
of the gap between the amount of say or influence they expect to have
at their workplaces and their real-life experience
[http://gcgj.mit.edu/new-paper-worker-voice-appear-ilr-review].

More than 50 percent of the workers who took part in our survey
reported they have less say than they feel that they ought to have,
what we call the “voice gap,” on key issues such as benefits,
compensation, promotions and job security. Between a third and half of
the workers we surveyed reported a gap between expected and actual say
or influence on decisions about how and when they work, safety and
protections from discrimination.

While workers are clear on what they want, the reality is few workers
who don’t belong to unions will get to join one, since fewer than 1
percent
[https://www.nlrb.gov/news-outreach/graphs-data/petitions-and-elections/representation-petitions-rc] will
experience an organizing drive at their workplaces. Also, fewer
than 10 percent
[http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/001979390806200101] of
all these efforts to unionize and get a collective bargaining
agreement succeed when employers resist.

New strategies

Recognizing these obstacles, unions are turning to new strategies for
improving working conditions. Perhaps the best example is union
support for a US$15 [https://fightfor15.org/about-us/] minimum wage
that would primarily benefit workers who aren’t their members.

Several new organizing efforts are taking shape, benefiting everyone
from South Florida tomato pickers
[https://ciw-online.org/] to baristas toiling in a Starbucks
[https://home.coworker.org/] near you.

But unions and these new forms of advocacy can’t get workers the
voice they expect on their jobs until U.S. labor laws
[https://mitsloan-php.s3.amazonaws.com/iwer/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Kochan.-2011-ABA-Labor-Law-Journal-article-on-NLRA.pdf] become
stronger.

_Thomas Kochan is George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management
Professor, Work and Organization Studies Co-Director, MIT Sloan
Institute for Work and Employment Research, MIT Sloan School of
Management_

_Duanyi Yang is a Ph.D. Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology_

_Erin L. Kelly is Sloan Distinguished Professor of Work and
Organization Studies Professor, Work and Organization Studies, MIT
Sloan School of Management_

_Will Kimball is a Ph.D. Student, MIT Sloan School of Management_

_Become a friend of The Conversation
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We believe healthy democracies need access to high quality,
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