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 316 professionals aged 50 and older are separately analyzed and, in part, compared to professionals aged 21 to 34 and 35 to 49.
Among the respondents: 51% were employed in the private, for-profit sector; 27% were employed in the public sector; 26% were employed in engineering, business, finance, computer, and math occupations; 20% were a racial or ethnic minority; 50% identified as Republicans; and 53% were women.
Professionals aged 50 and older (“older professionals”) and younger professionals had different opinions on priorities for workplace improvements, but they agreed on the reasons for joining together in union. Differences among older and younger professionals should lead organizers to craft messages that will appeal to both older and younger professionals.
First, younger and older professionals had different priorities for workplace improvement. Professionals 50 and older wanted salary and raise improvements, but their second priority was improving retirement and health benefits. Professionals aged 21-34 also wanted salary and raise improvements, but retirement and health benefit improvements were a low priority. Thus, unions organizing professionals across the age spectrum should develop a broad-based message focused on improving salaries and annual raises, benefits, opportunities for advancement, and work-life balance.
Second, professionals 50 and older were more skeptical than younger professionals that union representation could result in workplace improvements. Unions seeking to organize older professionals may need to make a stronger case that joining together in union can improve paid leave and vacations, safety and health conditions in the workplace, job security, and health and retirement benefits.
Third, while younger and older professionals differed in their opinions about unions and priorities for workplace improvements, they agreed on the top benefits of having union representation. Thus, while organizing messages will need to be broadly appealing, there will likely be little disagreement between younger and older professionals on what they want a union representing them to accomplish.
Additional data and analysis is available for DPE affiliated unions and their staff.
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