Union membership is ‘still the best route to a better life for African American workers’, says the American federation AFL-CIO, quoting a study which found that black union members earn on average 12% more than their non-union black workers with similar jobs. The difference is even larger in low-wage jobs. The study does not indicate how large the difference is for non-black workers.
The AFL-CIO suggests that decreasing union membership among black workers - from 31.7% in 1983 to 15.7% last year - may partly explain why incomes of black workers are dropping.
The decline of union membership among blacks has much to do with the loss of manufacturing jobs and does not mean that they are not interested in joining a union. In fact, blacks are more inclined to join unions. Zieger of the University of Florida says that “black workers are at the heart of organised labour’s hopes for revitalisation in the 21st century”.
AFL-CIO. Image: Martin Luther King was killed 40 years ago while supporting a strike of underpaid sanitation workers