Union Maids: Unions and the Female Workforce

Richard B. Freeman, Jonathan S. Leonard

NBER Working Paper No. 1652
Issued in June 1985
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

How have women fared in unions in recent years? The major findings of this paper are that unions have been more beneficial for women in the public sector than in the private sector, and that unionism for women is primarily a public sector wriite collar phenomenon distinguished from that of males. According to our analysis:(1) Women have come to be an increasingly large proportion of the unionized work force, and are critical in the one area in which unions have recently succeeded --the public sector.(2) In the public sector and in white collar occupations where women unionists are concentrated, unions raise women's wages more than they raise the wages of men.(3) In the private sector unions have essentially the same effect on women in wages, turnover, employment and so forth, and do not deter affirmative action programs to raise female employment. (4) Comparable worth presents a rare confluence of interests of unions in search of members, particularly in the public sector,and women in search of higher wages, and will likely continue to be used by both especially within the confines of collective bargaining.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w1652

Published: Freeman, Richard B. and Jonathan S. Leonard. "Union Maids: Unions and the Female Workforce," Gender in the Workplace, C. Brown and J. Peckman (eds), Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1987, pp. 189-212.

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