The United States is facing more than four decades of stagnant wages, near-record levels of economic inequality, and large economic divides across gender and especially race and ethnicity. To address these fundamental economic challenges, many more workers need to be able to collectively bargain. Substantially strengthening unions and workers’ rights and thereby increasing the amount of collective bargaining is essential. But America can do more than merely support the worksite-level bargaining that the current U.S. labor relations system emphasizes. Policymakers should also support sectoral bargaining in conjunction with worksite-level bargaining.
Worksite-level bargaining—known as enterprise bargaining—raises wages and benefits; reduces economic inequality; and helps equalize pay for women, African Americans, and Hispanics. But broader-based or sectoral bargaining—which aims to cover all workers in a particular labor market—can do even more, especially in certain sectors and industries, as a number of Center for American Progress Action Fund reports have highlighted.
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Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project