Unionized male visible minorities earn less: Study

10/19/04

Union membership not mitigating factor

Visible minorities, particularly men, earn less than their white counterparts in comparable positions even when they belong to a union, say University of Toronto labour experts.

"The fact that there is a wage disparity across the workforce between visible minorities and the white majority is well known. What is less well known is the impact that unions have on this difference in earnings," says Jeffrey Reitz, a sociology professor and co-author of the study to be published this month in the journal Industrial Relations.

Reitz and co-author Anil Verma, a labour relations professor, analysed the hourly wages by gender of 32,634 Canadians, both union and non-union workers, drawn from a 1997 Statistics Canada survey on labour and income.

The researchers found that male union workers earned almost 29 per cent more than their non-union counterparts. However, male visible minorities - both union and non-union - earned 12 per cent less than men from a European background in similar positions. "Since union membership appears to raise the wages of the visible minority group slightly more than for the majority group, the wage disadvantage faced by visible minorities, whether union members or not, remains persistent," says Verma.

While unions improved the wages of women on average by 22 per cent, visible minority women in both union and non-union positions earned nearly the same as the majority. "These findings suggest that if unions want to increase their appeal to ethnic minorities, especially men, they will need to develop more specific goals in collective bargaining to target this wage gap," says Verma.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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