The following analysis was completed by DPE based on an October 2016 attitudinal survey of 1,004 professional and technical employees. Here, the responses of 236 professionals earning less than $50,000 per year are separately analyzed and, in part, compared to professionals in three other earnings categories: $50,000 to $75,000; $75,000 to $100,000; and more than $100,000.
Among the 236 respondents earning less than $50,000: 70% were women; 44% were employed in the private, for-profit sector; 34% were employed in the public sector; 36% were aged 45 and over; 33% were employed in education, training, and library occupations; 61% were White; 16% were Black or African American; and 20% were employed part time.
First, professionals with earnings under $50,000 per year were more likely to feel undervalued and that they are not appreciated. As earnings go up, professionals are less likely to feel undervalued and more likely to feel appreciated and respected for their skills and knowledge as professionals. Not surprisingly, professionals equate their earnings with how much their employer values them. Thus, the lower a professional’s earnings, the more likely they are to feel undervalued.
Second, professionals earning under $50,000 were more likely to be concerned about the cost of union dues, in fact, it was their biggest concern with having a union. Lower earning professionals are likely to want assurances that paying union dues will be worth what they get in return. Demonstrating an ability to win pay and benefit increases will be essential.
Third, compared to women making under $75,000 per year, lower earning professionals believed that ensuring equal pay for equal work was a convincing reason to have a union. The potential for pay inequality may ring as even more unfair when professionals are earning so little.
Additional data and analysis is available for DPE affiliated unions and their staff.
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