Unionization Substantially Improves the Pay and Benefits of Latino Workers

September 16, 2008

Unionization Substantially Improves the Pay and Benefits of Latino Workers

Union Membership Plays Valuable Role in Countering Economic Inequality

For Immediate Release: September 16, 2008
Contact: Alan Barber, 202-293-5380 x115

WASHINGTON, D.C. – To mark the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) documents a large wage and benefit advantage for Latino workers in unions relative to their non-union counterparts.

The report, "Unions and Upward Mobility for Latino Workers," found that unionized Latino workers earned, on average, 17.6 percent more than their non-union peers. In addition, Latino workers in unions were much more likely to have health insurance benefits and a pension plan.

"Latinos are the fastest growing group in the U.S. labor force and the fastest growing group inside the U.S. labor movement," said John Schmitt, a Senior Economist at CEPR and the author of the study. "The data show that unions make a big difference in wages and benefits for Latino workers."

The report, which analyzed data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS), found that unionization raises the pay of Latino workers by about $2.60 per hour. According to the report, Latino workers in unions were also 26 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 27 percentage points more likely to have an employer-provided pension plan than Latino workers who were not in unions.

According to the study, unionization also strongly benefited Latino workers in otherwise low-wage occupations. Among Latino workers in the 15 lowest-paying occupations, union members earned 16.6 percent more than those workers who were not in unions. In the same low-wage occupations, unionized Latinos were 41 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 18 percentage points more likely to have a pension plan than their non-union counterparts.

Latinos made up about five percent of the U.S. work force at the end of the 1970s. By 2007, Latinos were about 14 percent of all U.S. workers. In the early 1980s, about six percent of all unionized workers in the United States were Latinos. In 2007, almost 12 percent of union workers were Latinos.

National Hispanic Heritage Month, first declared in 1988, runs from September 15 to October 15. September 15 marks the independence from Spain of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua; September 16 is Mexican independence day; and Chile celebrates its independence on September 18.

The full report can be found here.

En Español

Additional information is available from the following organizations:


Rich Jones
The Bell Policy Center

Bruce Nissen
Research Institute for Social and Economic Policy Center for Labor Research and Studies
Florida International University Miami, FL 33199
Fax: 305-348-2241
E-mail: Bruce.Nissen@fiu.edu

Matthew Weinstein
Progressive Maryland

New Jersey
Jon Shure
New Jersey Policy Perspective

Mark A. Price, Ph.D.
Keystone Research Center

New York
David Dyssegaard Kallick
Fiscal Policy Institute
(212) 721-7164
(212) 721-5415

North Carolina
John Quinterno
NC Budget & Tax Center
(919) 856-3185

Amy Hanauer
Policy Matters Ohio
(216) 361-9801 (phone)
(216) 361-9810 (fax)

Don Baylor
Center for Public Policy Priorities
(512) 320-0222 ext. 108


Catherine Singley
National Council of La Raza (NCLR)
(202) 785-1670