Union Membership Bridges Wealth Gap

Women of color face an enormous wealth gap when compared to the rest of society, says a new report by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. However, the wealth gap is far narrower for minority women belonging to a union, says one official.


The report released at the “Economic Security for Women” symposium in Washington, DC, defines “wealth” as a person’s assets minus their debt (which is different from income). Results show single African-American and Hispanic women have a median wealth of $100 and $120 respectively. The median for single white women is $41,500.


Guest Speaker Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) discussed the trends while pointing out the same gender and racial economic disparities are not as widespread among minority women under collective bargaining agreements. “Problem is that there have been too few women in unionized occupations, which has much to do with the income disparities and wealth building issues,” said Delegate Holmes Norton.


“Providing women of color with equal opportunities to build wealth is an imperative for our nation’s economic and political future,” the report reads. “As the racial demographics of the United States continue to shift and our nation becomes majority minority, letting a large group stagnate financially is not only irresponsible, but detrimental to the nation’s economic prosperity over the long run.”


“The ‘Union Difference’ cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to a discussion on the economic security of women in our country,” says IAM Executive Assistant Diane Babineaux. “The bottom line is that collective bargaining increases wages, which in turn helps increase wealth – especially for women and people of color. Latino union workers earn 50 percent more than their nonunion counterparts. For African Americans, the union advantage is 29 percent. That is why the IAM Women’s and Human Rights Department is so committed to advocating and spreading awareness on this issue.”