Proof Positive Labor Unions are Needed

An article by MSN Careers points to yet another reason why labor unions are so desperately needed in this country.

Using data from the Department of Labor, MSN Careers listed the 15 most common jobs in the United States. Though the blurb before the article states the careers bring in annual income ranging from just below $18,000 to more than $110,000, a closer look points to the real numbers.

Of the 15 jobs listed, nearly half are blue collar, requiring intense amounts of labor to perform. What’s more is six are professions that bring in an annual income of less than $25,000.

When one takes into consideration the number of single-parent households in this country, the rising price of food and education and what it costs to live, it’s no wonder that in 2009, 44 million Americans live below the poverty line. (To live below the poverty line in America, a family of four must live on less than $22,000—an arguably outdated level at which to measure poverty.)

Only 12.3 percent of Americans are members of labor unions, but by comparison, union members make 27 percent more than nonunion employees. Women in unions earn an extra $170 a week, or $9,000 more a year than their nonunion counterparts. African American union members earn an extra $150 a week, or $8,000 more a year. Latinos in unions earn an extra $225 a week, or $11,650 more a year. Plus, nearly 60 million American workers have said they would join a union if they could.

Americans need jobs—but not just low-wage jobs. Americans need high-quality, steady-income professions—the kind that union membership can provide.