Unions, collective bargaining, and other forms of advocacy have resulted in better wages, benefits, and working conditions for workers. Organized labor, however, is at a crossroads, as union membership has declined. As unions evolve to meet the needs of a globalized, 21st-century workforce, nonunion forms of worker organizing, sectoral bargaining, and worker representation on corporate boards have emerged as new forms of worker voice and representation.

Working Knowledge

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Worker voice, representation, and power Last updated on April 30, 2024
Research Summary

The Consequences of Signing Noncompete Agreements among Low-Wage Workers and Those without College Degrees

Noncompete agreements are commonly used by businesses when hiring highly educated, high-wage workers entrusted with sensitive information or specialized training, but new research finds that 14 percent of workers without a bachelor’s degree and 13 percent of workers earning less than $40,000 per year are also bound by these contracts. The Federal Trade Commission now wants to ban all noncompetes because they often are associated with harmful employment outcomes for workers’ career mobility and income growth, relying in part on this new research.

Annabel Stattelman Scanlan

Last updated on April 30, 2024
Worker voice, representation, and power February 20, 2024
Research Summary

The Racial Wealth Gap Is Smaller among Union Members

New evidence sheds light on the wealth of union households, finding greater wealth, higher pay, more benefits, and more stable employment for union members of color compared to their nonunionized counterparts.

Madeline Baxter

February 20, 2024
Worker voice, representation, and power January 30, 2024
Research Summary

Sexual Harassment Is Underreported When the US Economy and Safety Net Are Weak

When the US unemployment rate is high and unemployment insurance benefits are weak, workers are less likely to report workplace sexual harassment. Fears of retaliation increase workers’ reluctance to report sexual harassment, reducing worker protections and worker power in the labor market.

Madeline Baxter

January 30, 2024
Worker voice, representation, and power December 12, 2023

WorkRise Shorts: Economic Security for Low-Wage Immigrant Manicurists with Lisa Fu

California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative executive director Lisa Fu discusses her WorkRise-funded research that examines two specific approaches to elevate the industry—high-road training partnerships and sectoral bargaining—and offers insight into how unions, community partners, workers, and owners can use these strategies to move forward.
December 12, 2023


Worker voice, representation, and power Brief August 09, 2023

Worker Voice, Representation, and Power

In this brief, we provide a summary of the research framework that informs WorkRise’s thinking about the importance of worker voice and power for low-wage workers’ labor market mobility. We then offer a series of specific priority areas for future…

Joe Peck , Elisabeth Jacobs

WorkRise Research

August 09, 2023
Employer practices Executive Summary June 26, 2023

A Workplace Divided: Survey Research and Stakeholder Engagement to Advance Equitable Workplaces

A national survey by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University explores workers' perceptions of discrimination and unfair treatment based on race and ethnicity. The survey reveals significant percentages of Asian-American, Black, and Latino workers experience discrimination in private-sector and government workplaces. Black workers are more likely to view workplace discrimination as a significant problem than white workers, with Black female workers reporting the highest levels of discrimination. The study highlights the impact of discrimination on career advancement and the need for government and employer interventions to promote workplace equity.

Carl E. Van Horn, Ronald Quincy, Jessica Starace, Anton House

Grantee Research

June 26, 2023
Worker voice, representation, and power Executive Summary March 13, 2023

Nailing New Labor Models: Exploring Sectoral Bargaining and High-Road Training Partnerships in the Nail Salon Sector

This report from the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative and the UCLA Labor Center explores how partnerships and sectoral boards can build a sustainable and equitable nail salon industry, focusing on two approaches from other sectors. High-road training partnerships and sectoral bargaining approaches can be adapted for nail salons but require distinct interventions and capacities for member participation.

UCLA Labor Center, California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, California State University, Long Beach

Grantee Research

March 13, 2023
Worker voice, representation, and power Report July 28, 2022

Worker Power and Economic Mobility: A Landscape Report

This landscape report summarizes empirical evidence on two main pathways for workers to exercise their power in the labor market: the ability to exit their current job for  better outside options and organizations and institutions that build worker voice within firms.  

Ioana Marinescu, Jake Rosenfeld

WorkRise Research

July 28, 2022
Worker voice, representation, and power Report July 11, 2022

U.S. Workers’ Organizing Efforts and Collective Actions: A Review of the Current Landscape

The report summarizes research evidence on the size of the voice and representation gaps workers are attempting to fill, and provides examples of different strategies workers are using to address the gap.

Grantee Research

July 11, 2022

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