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Workers Can Save Themselves from Wealth Inequality

August 30, 2016 Updated: August 24, 2020

Report by EPI shows that decline in union membership costs nonunion workers $133 billion annually in lost wages  

Washington, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, the largest private sector union in the United States, released the following statement regarding a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), titled “Union Decline Lowers Wages of Nonunion Workers.

“This report confirms that union membership is the one clear path to a better life,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “Now more than ever, those of us in labor must discuss openly the incredible benefits that unions bring to all workers. The UFCW union family is committed to proving that we can bring better jobs and futures to every hard-working community.”

The benefits of a union contract go beyond just wages. A union contract is often the only way women can earn equal pay for equal work, and, in some states, it is the only line of defense for workers facing workplace discrimination.

Key findings from the latest EPI report:

  • One of the main reasons why hard-working Americans are struggling with stagnant wages and inequality is because private sector union membership fell from 34 percent in 1979 to just 10 percent in 2013.
  • If union density in 2013 was as high as it was in 1979, nonunion private sector men would have earned an extra $52 each week.
  • The declining rate of union density is costing nonunion private sector workers $133 billion annually in lost wages, which is greater than the economic hit U.S. workers take when we enter into unfair trade agreements with low-wage nations.

A recent report by Oxfam America titled No Relief: Denial of Bathroom Breaks in the Poultry Industry, documented the union difference when it comes to workplace rights and safety after finding that nonunion workers wore diapers when denied bathroom breaks by irresponsible employers.


UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about the UFCW www.ufcw.org

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