GC Study Highlights Effects of Recession on Private-Sector Union Membership

“The State of the Unions 2012: A Profile of Organized Labor in New York City, New York State, and the United States,” the September 2012 annual report of the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies and the Center for Urban Research, records “significant erosion” in organized labor in the private sector in New York City and the growing gap between private and public sector unionization rates.

The study also views the effects of job loss during the recession on union density and identifies industries that have and have not contributed to labor’s decreasing numbers. Third in an annual series, the study looks in particular detail at variations in unionization rates among immigrants, as well as unionization patterns by race, age, sex, and industry in the city, state, and nation. 

The New York Times quickly picked up the report in a September 3 article, “Union Jobs Plummet in the Private Sector.” The writer, Patrick McGeehan, extensively quotes the director of the Murphy Institute, Professor Ruth Milkman (GC, Sociology), who coauthored the report with Laura Braslow, a doctoral student in sociology and a public policy research consultant to nonprofit, for-profit, and government agencies.

The Murphy Institute was established over twenty years ago with the support of the late CUNY Chancellor Joseph S. Murphy. The institute—which falls under the aegis of CUNY’s School of Professional Studies, one of four entities making up the “University Center” part of the Graduate School and University Center, informally called “The Graduate Center”—conducts strategic research, organizes public forums and conferences, and publishes the journal New Labor Forum. The institute’s worker education program offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses and degree programs designed to meet the academic and career advancement needs of working adults and union members in the New York City area.

The Center for Urban Research, working with the Graduate Center’s doctoral faculty and students, undertakes a wide range of basic and applied research activities across disciplinary lines on urban issues using the New York metropolitan area as a laboratory for comparative analysis. Incorporating the CUNY Data Service, the CUNY Mapping Service, and the New York City Labor Market Information Service, CUR has a special interest in such topics as demographic and labor market change, immigrant integration, political participation, housing, and neighborhood development. Distinguished Professor John Mollenkopf (GC, Political Science, Sociology, Demography CP) serves as CUR’s director.

Submitted on: SEP 5, 2012

Category: Center for Urban Research, Research Studies, Sociology