Unions and upward mobility for low-wage workers
This essay examines the impact of unionization on the pay and benefits in fifteen important low-wage occupations. Even after controlling for important differences between union and nonunion workers—including such factors as age and education level—unionization substantially improves the pay and benefits offered in what are otherwise low-paying occupations.
On average, in the low-wage occupations analyzed here, unionization raised workers' wages by just over 16 percent—about $1.75 per hour—compared to those of nonunion workers. Unionization also raises the likelihood that a worker has employer-provided health insurance or an employer-sponsored retirement plan by 25 percentage points. These union wage and benefit effects are particularly impressive given the widespread belief that many of the jobs analyzed here are inherently incapable of providing decent pay and benefits.
John Schmitt, Margy Waller, Shawn Fremstad, and Ben Zipperer. "Unions and upward mobility for low-wage workers" WorkingUSA 11.3 (2008): 337-348.