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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The State of the Unions in California and its Key Cities in 2015


IRLE’s State of the Unions 2015 starts by considering the impacts of the fifteen dollar minimum wage on Los Angeles and San Francisco. Proposals to exempt unions from the minimum wage provision will not make a difference to the majority of union jobs, which tend to pay well above regulated price floors. The minimal employment dislocation associated with the new wage will likely be concentrated in the hospitality and trade (including retail) sectors. Though one might expect a minimum wage increase to reduce the value of unionization to workers, an increase in the wage floor may well instead nudge unionization rates above their historic lows through reducing employers’ incentives to oppose unionization. Other current changes in the state of California unions are limited. Union membership remains most common in the public sector. Given their disproportionate concentration in jobs such as education and health care, women, black workers, and the college-educated are particularly likely to be unionized. California, Los Angeles, and San Francisco have seen unionization levels dip since 2014, but those rates remain within their range of fluctuation over the last twenty years.

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