In a new paper, EPI Vice President John Schmitt and Research Assistant Julia Wolfe examine the demographics of the 6.8 million state and local government workers who are represented by a union—a subset of the total 17.3 million state and local government workers. If the Supreme Court rules against working people in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 and strips state and local government unions of their ability to collect fair share fees, it will harm all state and local government workers and the communities they serve by impeding workers’ ability to organize and bargain collectively.
“An attack on the public-sector union members is an attack on vital public services,” said Schmitt. “Union members in state and local government jobs are teachers, social workers, firefighters, police officers, and other public servants. These women and men work hard and should have the freedom to join together and have their voices heard.”
Key findings include:
- A majority (58 percent) of workers covered by a collective bargaining contract in state and local government are women.
- African Americans, Latinos, and Asian American and Pacific Islanders make up one third of unionized state and local government workers.
- While teachers constitute the single largest subgroup, union workers in state and local government also include those serving the public as administrators, social workers, police officers, firefighters, and other professionals.
- On average, union workers in state and local government have substantially more formal education than workers in the private sector. Over 60 percent of state and local government union workers have a four-year college degree or more education, compared with one third in the private-sector workforce.
“More than a third of state and local government workers are union members, but the benefits of public sector unions extend beyond their members,” said Wolfe. “Unions are required by law to represent and negotiate on the behalf of all workers in a bargaining unit, whether or not they pay dues. Beyond that, unions help raise labor standards throughout the economy. The public-sector unions under attack in Janus ensure that the people who serve our communities are fairly compensated.”
Schmitt and Wolfe are available for interviews on their demographic analysis of the public-sector union workforce. In addition, EPI Director of Labor Law and Policy Celine McNicholas can discuss the legal ramifications of Janus and its aftermath.