The following analysis was completed by DPE based on an October 2016 attitudinal survey of professional and technical employees. Here, the responses of 599 professionals employed in the private, for-profit sector are separately analyzed and, in part, compared to professionals in the public and nonprofit sectors.
Three areas stand out when analyzing survey results from private, for-profit sector professionals.
First, private, for-profit sector professionals are differentiated from their nonprofit and public sector counterparts by their motivation to earn a higher salary and excel at their job, which they rank as the aspects of their job they value the most. A message that conveys how forming or joining a union can both improve salaries and advance their careers would likely be persuasive.
Second, this sector showed the lowest initial support for having union representation in their present job. A lower showing of initial support is likely due to a couple of factors. Centrally, private, for-profit sector professionals are less likely to believe that unions are effective in improving wages, benefits, and working conditions. The survey showed that professionals who believe unions are effective are more likely to support having a union. In addition, fewer respondents in the for-profit sector are former union members and past union membership makes a person more likely to support having a union at work. Further, less than one-third of respondents reported knowing a lot about unions. This combination of factors will likely require unions organizing for-profit sector professionals to overcome a few more obstacles than those organizing the nonprofit and public sectors. However, achieving and maintaining majority support is possible as strong anti-union sentiments are not widely held by for-profit sector professionals.
Finally, private, for-profit sector professionals want to preserve the ability to have individual merit rewarded as they work to advance in their careers. They are more likely to believe that unions discourage individual effort and that having a union would negatively impact the quality of work and productivity. They tend to believe that unions protect poorly performing employees. Thus, organizers’ messages for private, for-profit sector professionals will need to include information about how unions promote quality work and negotiate contracts that reward individual effort and achievement.
Additional data and analysis is available for DPE affiliated unions and their staff.
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