How Unions Stand Up For Our Kids

How Unions Stand Up For Our Kids

Robert D. Putnam, a Harvard social scientist that famously authored Bowling Alone, recently ignited a national conversation about upward mobility with a new book titled Our Kids. He persuasively argues that growing inequality in income and wealth is leading to profound social changes that make it increasingly harder for children from low-income families to get ahead. What we found out this week at the Center of the American Progress (CAP) is an important contribution to this debate. Researchers at Harvard, Wellesley, and the CAP paired up to study the effects of union membership on social mobility. Although it is well established that unions raise wages for their members, little was known about their impact on economic opportunity for the disadvantaged. To explore this relationship, they looked at aggregate data at the city level and a second data set that pairs individuals with their parents. Their findings should come as no surprise to those of us who witness how unions lift up our communities: there is a strong relationship between union membership and intergenerational mobility. In other words, unions help low-income children move up the economic ladder. The effect is constant even as you control for other factors such as race, types of industry, and inequality. Moreover, the individual-level data reveals that children who grow up in union homes tend to have better outcomes. For instance, children of non-college-educated fathers earn 28 percent more if their father belonged to a union. The most fascinating aspect of the study relates to the work that we do in Bargaining for the Common Good. While we anticipate that unionized parents who make more...
Victory in Los Angeles

Victory in Los Angeles

We are proud to share the news about a major victory for our movement in Los Angeles, where the Coalition of LA City Unions has reached a tentative deal with the city after more than a year of tense contract bargaining. As many of you know, unions representing LA City employees teamed up with community and faith-based groups in 2014 to form the Fix LA Coalition, which sought to restore vital City programs and services that have been cut during the Great Recession. Fix LA called attention to how severe cuts by City officials had left garbage on the streets, sewage overflows, unfilled potholes, torn-up sidewalks, and untrimmed trees to afflict Los Angeles residents. At the same time, the coalition released a groundbreaking report detailing how the LA spends $334 million per year on fees to big banks – more than its entire annual budget for street construction and maintenance. Together, workers and community partners held rallies, protested, launched petitions, released reports, and even authorized a strike to persuade Mayor Garcetti and the City Council to invest in Los Angeles communities, not Wall Street banks. By using collective bargaining to leverage positive change, the Fix LA Coalition faithfully applied the principles of Bargaining for the Common Good to its campaign. The new contract agreement between the City and its workers is a huge victory for the Fix LA Coalition and those who believe in Common Good Bargaining. It features a first-ever commitment by the City of Los Angeles to add 5,000 additional employees by fiscal year 2017-18.  The City had reduced its civilian workforce by thousands as a result of the revenue losses from the economic crisis. It establishes a Commission on Revenue Generation to...