Unions at the Crossroads: Strategic Membership, Financial, and Political Perspectives

By Marick F. Masters | Go to book overview

The new head of SEIU, Andy Stern (who succeeded John Sweeney), says that his union needs "to make our local leaders see that because of lower- wage competition, they must represent more of their industries to bargain effectively for existing members" ( Bernstein 1996: 73).

With respect to bargaining clout in terms of capacities to fund a strike, the data show that the major unions have improved their position between 1979 and 1993. Since 1988, in fact, they have had sufficient working capital to fund anywhere from 50 to 60 percent of the estimated costs of a major strike. Their aggregate wealth has exceeded the projected strike costs in terms of lost dues and striker-benefit payments. Yet, there is considerable interunion variation. At least four private sector unions had a negative working-capital-to-strike-cost ratio. Most public sector unions at the national level have only a marginal capacity to fund strikers, a reality perhaps dictated in part by the relative absence of strike protections in much of the government at all levels, as well as by their decentralized bargaining structures, especially among state and local employees.


NOTES
1.
Masters ( 1983; 1985), for example, estimated the political expenditures made by federal-employee unions ( AFGE, NFFE, and NTEU) based on the gross expenditures allocated to professional political employees itemized on the unions' LM-2 schedules. Voos ( 1983; 1984a, 1984b; 1987) estimates the organizing expenditures of manufacturing unions over the 1954-1977 period. In so doing, she relied upon the unions' financial statements, other documentary evidence, and interviews with union staff. Organizing expenditures included ( 1983: 579) "organizers' salaries . . . ; reimbursements to organizers for expenses . . . , and miscellaneous direct organizing expenditures (such as leaflets and hall rentals)." The union sample included the IBT, USW, UAW, CJA, IAM, URW, ILGWU, IBEW, SEIU, CWA, and the Clothing Workers and Textile Workers (which were separate unions for most of the period she examined).
2.
For example, SEIU, as reported earlier, supposedly allocates about one-third of its national operating budget to organizing. Voos ( 1984b) estimated that the manufacturing unions allocated about 20 percent of their budgets to organizing in the 1970s. Interviews with union staff suggested that the 2-to-4 percent range (across unions generally) is probably a good ballpark figure, notwithstanding interunion differences.
3.
Seven rather than eight election cycles are used because complete member- based income was unavailable for 1994 at the time this study was initiated.
4.
Again, the 1993-1994 cycle estimate is not used to compute the overall average because 1994 data on member-based income were not available when this study began. As a practical matter, however, the seventh and eighth election cycle average ratios are literally indistinguishable: .027 (1980-1992 average ratio of PAC receipts to member-based income) versus .028 (1980-1994 average, with 1994 member-based income computed from 1993 data, adjusted for inflation).

-155-

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Unions at the Crossroads: Strategic Membership, Financial, and Political Perspectives
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 18
  • Chapter One - Strategic Perspectives on Union Resources: Human, Financial, and Political Capital 21
  • Notes 40
  • Chapter 2 Union Density and Membership 43
  • Notes 60
  • Chapter 3 Major Union Membership Trends 63
  • Notes 71
  • Chapter 4 The Financial Capital of Unions 73
  • Notes 87
  • Chapter 5 How Unions Raise and Spend Money 89
  • Notes 106
  • Chapter 6 The Financial Performance of Unions 107
  • Notes 115
  • Chapter 7 Union Political Capital and the Legal Enactment Strategy 117
  • Notes 131
  • Chapter 8 Union Profiles 133
  • Chapter 9 Baseline Union Budgets: Implications for Representational Services and Bargaining Clout 141
  • Notes 155
  • Chapter 10 Strategic Union Resource Allocations 157
  • Notes 171
  • Chapter 11 Union Growth Scenarios and Mergers 173
  • Notes 183
  • Chapter 12 Strategies for Union Growth 185
  • Notes 201
  • Chapter 13 The Future of U.S. Unions 203
  • Bibliography 209
  • Index 227
  • About the Author 231
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