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In terms of pay, benefits, and hiring, U.S. unions offer a good news/bad news story. The good news for unions and their members is that their members earn about 20% more than nonunion workers, even after adjusting for factors such as years of work experience and education level. The bad news for unions is that the share of U.S. workers who belong to a labor union has been steadily declining for 50 years, as shown in [link] . About one-quarter of all U.S. workers belonged to a union in the mid-1950s, but only 11.1% of U.S. workers are union members today. If you leave out workers employed by the government (which includes teachers in public schools), only 6.6% of the workers employed by private firms now work for a union.

Percentage of wage and salary workers who are union members

The graph shows that the percentage of wage and salary workers who are union members was lowest in 1935 where it was about 5%. It was highest in in the mid-1950s at around 25%. As of 2010, the percentage was less than 15%.
The share of wage and salary workers who belong to unions rose sharply in the 1930s and 1940s, but has tailed off since then to 11.1% of all workers in 2014.

The following section analyzes the higher pay union workers receive compared the pay rates for nonunion workers. The following section analyzes declining union membership levels. An overview of these two issues will allow us to discuss many aspects of how unions work.

Higher wages for union workers

Why might union workers receive higher pay? What are the limits on how much higher pay they can receive? To analyze these questions, let’s consider a situation where all firms in an industry must negotiate with a single union, and no firm    is allowed to hire nonunion labor. If no labor union existed in this market, then equilibrium (E) in the labor market would occur at the intersection of the demand for labor (D) and the supply of labor (S) in [link] . The union can, however, threaten that, unless firms agree to the wages they demand, the workers will strike. As a result, the labor union manages to achieve, through negotiations with the firms, a union wage of Wu for its members, above what the equilibrium wage would otherwise have been.

Union wage negotiations

The graph shows an upward sloping supply curve and a downward sloping demand curve. The two curves intersect at point E. Vertical dashed lines Qd and Qs intersect above point E with horizontal dashed line Wu. The space between the intersections of these lines creates the excess supply of labor.
Without a union, the equilibrium at E would have involved the wage We and the quantity of labor Qe. However, the union is able to use its bargaining power to raise the wage to Wu. The result is an excess supply of labor for union jobs. That is, a quantity of labor supplied, Qs is greater than firms’ quantity demanded for labor, Qd.

This labor market situation resembles what a monopoly firm does in selling a product, but in this case a union is a monopoly selling labor to firms. At the higher union wage Wu, the firms in this industry will hire less labor than they would have hired in equilibrium. Moreover, an excess supply of workers want union jobs, but firms will not be hiring for such jobs.

From the union point of view, workers who receive higher wages are better off. However, notice that the quantity of workers (Qd) hired at the union wage Wu is smaller than the quantity Qe that would have been hired at the original equilibrium wage. A sensible union must recognize that when it pushes up the wage, it also reduces the incentive of firms to hire. This situation does not necessarily mean that union workers are fired. Instead, it may be that when union workers move on to other jobs or retire, they are not always replaced. Or perhaps when a firm expands production, it expands employment somewhat less with a higher union wage than it would have done with the lower equilibrium wage. Or perhaps a firm decides to purchase inputs from nonunion producers, rather than producing them with its own highly paid unionized workers. Or perhaps the firm moves or opens a new facility in a state or country where unions are less powerful.

Questions & Answers

a mixed economic system
Ngong Reply
What are the types of price elasticity of demand
Juliana Reply
what are massures to promote geographical mobility of labor?
Ngong
Is to make sure that a labourer to know more about his salary to earn before going to the direction
shehu
what is trade
PHILIPPE Reply
Trade is a basic economic concept involving the buying and selling of goods and services, with compensation paid by a buyer to a seller, or the exchange of goods or services between parties. Trade can take place within an economy between producers and consumers.
Miss
what is fisical policy?
ha Reply
fisical policy or fiscal policy?
Miss
what are.the characteristics of economic goods
Hamis
what are the importance of labour market?
Rachael
how discrib the rural development and their four stages
Sheikh Reply
ye economics se related ha
Sheikh
1..traditional stage..no science and technology is applied hence poor productionuu.2..the take off stage..some development strategies are initiated eg transport system is improved but the traditional cultural belief still remain .3..the prematurely stage..technological methods of production are appl
President
applied leading to higher GDP..4..stage of mass consumption..
President
What is Easiest Formula For National Income?
Tenzin Reply
national income/ agrrigate net value
Sheikh
what do you mean by the supply of goods
sachin Reply
supply of good refer to the total unit of production which is ready to sell at a given price
Tenzin
what is implicit cost
fuseini Reply
Yeah
MOHAMED
any cost that has already occurred but not necessarily shown or reported as a separate expense.
President
The links don't seem to be working
Scorch Reply
what is taxonomy
wise Reply
how to interprets elasticity
Joseph Reply
what is demand curve
Joseph
It is the graphical representation of quantity demand of a commodity?
Kofi
it is the graphical representation of price and quantity demanded of a commodity
Obaa
what is the difference between positive economics and normative economics.
pauline Reply
It said that positive economics studies the facts, but normative one focus on ought to be.
Mohammad
in another words normative economics focuses on what the fair situation is.
Mohammad
positive economics: wages are 10$ per hour. normative economics: wages should be 25$ per hour.
Mohammad
what is choice
Hamis Reply
what is indifference curve
Misba Reply
It is an alternative combination of consumption of two goods which gives equal level of satisfaction.
Shujjat
good morning guys.. I am Lawrence from Nigeria.. trust am welcome here..
Lawrence Reply
mashallah
Tanveer
are you ecnomist?
Noor
I am a researcher
jackie
you all are ecnomost
Noor
ohh nice
Noor
re search on economy
Noor

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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