Harvest of struggle: Tracking inequality through first contract gains for low-wage workers
This project will quantify the gains that low-wage workers make via union membership, not only in terms of wages but also benefits, health and safety protections, grievance procedures, training, and work flexibility and regularity. Utilizing a database of first contracts gained under collective bargaining agreements, the researcher seeks to provide a broader view of unionization’s benefits which fully captures the human capital implications. In addition, this project focuses on women, workers of color, and low-wage workers, which the vast majority of the contemporary research on unions and labor market outcomes does not capture. Low-wage workers are disproportionately at the bottom of the income scale, and account for a significant share of the growth in income inequality. Understanding the diverse consequences of organizing and collective bargaining may provide insights into how and why inequality has grown.