I have held only one union job in my life.
The details aren’t all that important, but this union was on life support. In fact, we had no engagement with the union during my two-plus years on the job.
But we did work under a union-negotiated contract. And the salaries and benefits were well beyond anything I had experienced at similar positions at comparable companies.
For that, I was thankful. But unions are fading and have been for some time. According to a new report, the decline of unions is affecting nonunion workers as well.
Nonunion private-sector male workers would have collected $52 in additional pay, or 5 percent, in 2013 if the share of union workers had remained at 1979 levels, according to the study by the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute.
That adds up to the loss of $2,704 annually for the average nonunion worker.
Washington University sociologists Jake Rosenfeld and Patrick Denice, and Jennifer Laird, a research scientist at Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy, authored the paper.
Women were not as unionized as men in 1979, so their weekly wages would be about 2 to 3 percent higher, the report found.
In 1979, union membership stood at about 34 percent for men and 16 percent for women. Today, those figures are 10 and 6 percent, respectively.
The decline of unions has an impact on advisors, too. For one, far fewer workers are getting pension benefits every year. Roughly 38 percent of private sector employees in the United States had a defined benefit pension plan in 1979.
That number is about 13 percent today and continues to decline.
The best thing about pensions, of course, is the reliability. Employees don’t have to do anything except retire and collect a pension check monthly until they die. No picking investments or devising complex drawdown strategies.
Advisors can be a big help here in steering employees to invest in annuities that act the same as pensions, paying a monthly check for life.
Likewise, union employees normally received generous benefits, including disability and health insurance. No union means no generous benefits.
These are all areas where workers will benefit from advisors better equipped to offer holistic planning for retirement, healthcare and comprehensive budgeting.
Are you up to the task?
Happy Labor Day.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected]
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