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Study: Women in unions get higher pay

Women employees who belong to labor unions earn higher pay and earn more generous benefits than their non-unionized counterparts, according to a new study.

According to the liberal-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research, women in unions make an average of 12.9 percent more than those who aren’t covered by collective bargaining. They are nearly 37 percent more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, while 53.4 percent more have participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. This appears to apply even when researchers factored in age, race, industry, educational attainment, state of residence and other demographic factors.

The Washington think-tank also found that the increase in pay and benefits is greater the less education a women worker has. According to the study, “For the average female worker, a four-year college degree boosts wages by over half (51.9 percent) relative to a similar woman who has only a high school degree. In comparison, unionization raises a woman’s pay by 14.7 percent – over one-quarter of the effect of a college degree.” And union women with a high school degree are actually more likely to have health insurance or a retirement plan than women with a four-year college degree.

Nearly half of workers represented by unions in the U.S. today are women. This is a up from 30 years ago, when they only made up 35 percent. Women are expected to outnumber men in unions 10 years.

Despite women workers’ increased share of the union workforce, fewer women overall are now members. Union membership overall has been dropping for decades in the U.S., but this trend has played out differently between women in men. Between 1983 and 2012, the share of women in unions fell more than a third to just under 12 percent. But men saw a much larger decline in union membership, from roughly 28 percent in 1983 to 13.1 percent last year.

“Women are on track to become the majority of the union workforce in 10 years, but their rate of unionization is dropping, along with that of men,” Nicole Woo, co-author of the study, said in a statement. “Considering the great boost to pay and benefits that unions bring, it’s important that anyone who cares about the well-being of women workers also care about unions.”

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