Union membership in the US rose by 311,000 people in 2007, nearly two-thirds of whom were women. According to the Washington Post, this increase is the biggest annual growth in membership since 1983. Today, only 12 percent of the US workforce are members of unions, reports the American Federation of Labor(ALF-CIO).
Tom Woodruff of the Service Employees International Union told the Washington Post, “I don’t think the number means we’ve turned the corner. I think it’s significant the labor movement is growing. But it’s not nearly enough.”
Women’s eNews reports that union membership positively effects women’s weekly wages. African American women in unions earned $184 more a week, and Latinas in unions earned $229 more a week. According to the ALF-CIO (PDF), “Nationwide, working families lose $200 billion in income annually due to the wage gap between men and women.” The evidence that women in unions earn more than non-unionized women suggests that the increase of women in unions could be beneficial to decreasing the continuing wage gap.
Jan Clausen, a member of a union for professors at New York University and the New School for the Liberal Arts in New York City, told Women’s eNews, “Like other women in professions that are undervalued despite the contributions we make to society, I have found that union membership is a financial lifeline….It has also given me a voice in determining university policies, such as whether gender studies will be included in the curriculum.”