Salon: Why Labor Unions Make People Less Racist

Labor News

Reprinted from Salon by Matthew Rozsa on July 1, 2020.

“Compared to non-union workers, union members have higher wages and smaller gender and racial wage disparities,” writes Matthew Rozca in Salon. “Now, a new research paper finds that stronger labor unions have an anti-racist side effect: white union members feel less racial resentment against Blacks than their non-union counterparts.

“The paper published in the American Journal of Political Science, called ‘Labor Unions and White Racial Politics,’ was written by Professors Paul Frymer of Princeton University and Jacob Grumbach of the University of Washington. ‘Union membership reduces racial resentment toward African Americans,’ they write. The reason, they believe, is partly because union leaders ‘need to recruit workers of color in order to achieve majority memberships in racially diversifying labor sectors’ and therefore ‘have ideological and strategic incentives to mitigate racial resentment among the rank and file in pursuit of organizational maintenance and growth.’

“Frymer and Grumbach note how union leadership increasingly forged alliances with civil rights groups starting with the advent of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s, and that the tendency of a disproportionate number of unions to support civil rights causes has continued since that time.

“‘Although Trump received greater support from white union members than did earlier Republican presidential candidates, the increase was not unique to union members,’ Frymer and Grumach also write. ‘Conditional on demographic covariates, union membership is negatively associated with Trump support.’…

Salon 7/1

About Jeffrey Burman 861 Articles
Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at