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By Targeting Unions, Wisconsin Lawmakers Risk Lowering Wages for Workers

Weakening unions will be a top priority for Wisconsin lawmakers when they next meet in January, according to new statements by legislative leaders. Unions help workers achieve higher wages, and limiting unions’ abilities to advocate for workers could make it harder for some families to climb the economic ladder.

Unionized workers earn more in wages and other compensation than non-union workers who are otherwise the same in education, industry, age, and other factors. Union workers earn $1.24 more per hour, or 13.6% more than other similarly-situated workers who are not in unions, according to an 2012 analysis by the Economic Policy Institute. For a full-time worker, that wage difference adds up to nearly $2,600 per year.

In addition to earning more money, union workers are better off than their counterparts with regards to health insurance, retirement, and paid time off. Union workers are more likely to:

  • have employer-sponsored health insurance, including coverage after retirement;
  • have smaller health insurance deductibles;
  • have lower health insurance premium costs;
  • have a pension; and
  • have more paid time off.

About 1 out of 8 workers in Wisconsin are represented by unions.

Given that economic gains to middle- and working-class families have been nearly non-existent in recent years, lawmakers should be doing everything they can to increase wages for Wisconsin workers. Making it more difficult for unions to operate does just the opposite of this.

Unions help give workers’ incomes a boost – and by doing so, help create new customers for businesses and strengthen Wisconsin’s economy. By limiting the ability of unions to operate, policymakers make it harder for workers to make ends meet. We should be trying to improve economic security for Wisconsin workers, not undermine it.


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