January 22, 2006

the value of organization

Filed under: — cwage @ 7:38 pm

I would also like to note that the tiered structure discussed here is also further evidence that unions have not outlived their usefulness -- the very fact that the legal status of immigrants creates a tiered labor force is evidence that union protections do result in a higher quality of life across the board:

Unions have historically enabled working people to attain a middle-class standard of living, and they continue to do so. By virtually any measure, union workers get a better deal in the workplace. Union workers take home $169 more every week than non-union employees do.28 In the private sector, union members are 35 percent more likely to have health care benefits, and at the median, they pay only half of the insurance premiums shelled out by their non-union counterparts. Union members are also 57 percent more likely to have an employer-sponsored retirement plan and have more opportunities to accrue paid vacation days and holidays than do non-union employees.29 In short, union jobs provide good wages, health benefits and retirement security they offer a middle-class standard of living.

To look at the status of immigrant labor is in some ways to look at what labor would be like without the existence of union organization.

Along those lines, Nathan Newman notes a creative undertaking by Wal-mart employees to combat erratic and abrupt schedule changes:

To counter the widespread problems of inconsistent and under-scheduling, the WWA launched a campaign to encourage Wal-Mart workers to file for unemployment compensation.

Smith estimates that "hundreds, if not thousands" of Wal-Mart workers have filed for unemployment as part of the WWA's campaign. They usually win, according to Smith, costing Wal-Mart tens of thousands of dollars, and when they lose, they force Wal-Mart into a lengthy and revealing appeal process.

As a result, a number of Wal-Mart stores with higher levels of WWA member activity have changed their scheduling policy.