Tracking the Decay

A simply powerful and powerfully simple chart showing the tight correlation between the anti-union movement (really the anti-worker movement) and the decline of income share of middle-class Americans.

Anti-Union Policies and the Decline of Income

And yes, I understand that “correlation does not imply causation.” I do get that.  But it is begging for a counterfactual study to prove the causal relationship.

Oh wait!  Someone already did one!

  • We argue that unions helped institutionalize norms of equity, reducing the dispersion of nonunion wages in highly unionized regions and industries. Accounting for unions’ effect on union and nonunion wages suggests that the decline of organized labor explains a fifth to a third of the growth in inequality—an effect comparable to the growing stratification of wages by education. (513)
  • [D]eunionization’s effects on inequality are only half as large as education’s effects for women, but union and education effects are equally large for men. (528)
  • [We argue] that unions not only equalize union members’ wages, they also equalize the nonunion wage distribution by threatening union organization and buttressing norms for fair pay. We found strong evidence that unionization rates in detailed industries for geographic regions are positively associated with wage equality among nonunion workers. (532)
  • The decline of U.S. labor and the associated increase in wage inequality signaled the deterioration of the labor market as a political institution. Workers became less connected to each other in their organizational lives and less connected in their economic fortunes. (533)

So never mind!  The science is there.  Declines in union membership cause the decline in household income.


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12 thoughts on “Tracking the Decay

  1. I have two brothers in private sector labor unions. I fully agree with everything in your post, as long as you are not including collective bargaining within PUBLIC sector unions. Even my brothers agree that’s a bad idea. Taxpayers are not represented. That should be completely obvious to everyone after seeing Falk and Mary Bell swapping spit in their last dog and pony show.

    1. Erroneous. Taxpayers most certainly ARE represented. They’re represented by the governor they elected, as well as the elected officials they elected from both parties.

  2. I don’t believe that Governor Walker has ever negotiated with labor…even when he was Milwaukee County Exec…It actually feels like he is afraid to.


    Government employees pay dues to government unions(WEAC, AFSME, MTI) who use a lot of that money to get their candidates elected. They then sit down across the table to negotiate TAXPAYERS funds for their employees. WHAT?? ARE YOU FRICKIN KIDDING ME?? All that is, is public employees of the state bargaining with THEMSELVES.

    Falk is pledging to ignore every single priority from every single Wisconsinite until 5% of the population who are in the public unions get their way. WEAC and AFSCME endorsing Falk is nothing more than pay for play. And it’s illegal.

    1. Erroneous. Not all elected officials are elected with the help of labor unions, yet ALL elected officials (at least all of the ones in the legislature) vote to approve or deny union contracts that were negotiated.

      Really, it’s getting old arguing the same points with you.

      I get that you really really love the latest talking points sent to you via email (I get them too, for what it’s worth), but the reality is that elected officials (Republican and Democrats all) get a chance to represent their constituents when it comes to union contracts, despite what you want to believe.

      1. “Not all elected officials are elected with the help of labor unions”

        Correct. Just democrats are. Prove me wrong on that point, if you can.

        1. james, why would I try to prove you wrong on something that’s true? Labor unions do in fact support Democrats, because unlike Republicans Democrats are looking out for working people.

          Interestingly enough, there used to be a time when unions didn’t have a problem endorsing Republicans, but that was back when Republicans actually understood that the middle class drives our nation’s economy, not the top one percent.

  4. How is what you are deriding any different than the corporations who have bought their own little puppet elected officials in order to repeal work rules, workplace safety, environmental protection, etc…while receiving additional tax decreases while the rest of us ‘share the pain’?

    And your squawk still doesn’t negate the fact that our petulant governor is in fact afraid to negotiate with the public unions or the opposition party and ignores the will of the people (i.e. sales tax in MKE county for parks and transit)…

    1. You seem to have a lot of trouble staying focused on the subject matter of given posts. There’s medicine for that.

      1. @ Jimbo

        (*laughing*) I figured that if I posted the link in a few places, regardless of the topic, it might increase the odds that you would deal with uncomfortable truths contained in the linked article.

        So far, then, Sahhh-WING and a miss. Strike one.


        Let me just go check the other places that I posted the link.

        What’s that sound, you ask? It is the sound of me NOT holding my breath that you will respond with anything other than rightwing talking points and evidence-free snark.

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