Tag Archives: organized labor

Millennials and the Labor Movement that Refuses to Die

This post was originally featured at Mobilizing Ideas.

By Ruth Milkman

Two years ago I focused my ASA Presidential address on social movements led by Millennials, building on Karl Mannheim’s classic treatise on “The Problem of Generations.”  As the first generation of “digital natives,” and the one most directly impacted by the economic precarity that emerged from the neoliberal transformation of the labor market, the Millennial generation has a distinctive life experience and worldview.  Disappointed by the false promises of racial and gender equality, and faced with skyrocketing growth in class inequality, Millennial activists embrace an explicitly intersectional political agenda.  This generation is  the most highly educated one in U.S. history, and indeed it is college-educated Millennials who have been most extensively galvanized into political activism.  My address documented their role as the dominant demographic in four high-profile 21st-century social movements:  Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the “Dreamers” and the campus-based activism around sexual assault (which later helped spark the multi-generational “Me Too” movement).

When I researched and wrote that piece, there was little evidence of a significant Millennial presence in the organized labor movement.  In fact, young workers have  been underrepresented among labor union members for decades, in part because of the scarcity of new union organizing efforts.  But now that may be changing.  In 2017, over three-quarters of the increase in union membership was accounted for by workers under 35 years old, as a recent Economic Policy Institute post noted. (The total number of U.S. union members in 2017 rose by about 262,ooo over the previous year, although the unionization rate was unchanged.)  In addition, survey data show that Millennials express far more pro-union attitudes than their baby boomer counterparts do. Continue reading Millennials and the Labor Movement that Refuses to Die

Report: State of the Unions 2015

What’s the relationship between unionization and the racial pay gap?

According to a new report by Murphy Institute Professors Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce, The State of the Unions: A Profile of Organized Labor in New York City, New York State, and the United States, unions narrow the racial divide in wage levels. The report states:

Blacks have higher unionization rates than any other racial/ethnic group. Those who are union members reap substantial economic advantages, such as improved earnings, more job security, and greater access to employer-provided health insurance and pensions. 

An annual publication from the Murphy Institute, the report provides a wealth of information about unions in New York City, New York State and beyond, providing union density levels by geography, industry, race, gender, earnings, education, and other variables, and showing modest growth of unions at both the City and State level.

On Friday, the report was covered in a NY Times article called Unionization Important to Closing Racial Wage Gap, Study Says.

See the full report here.