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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Immigrant Unionization through the Great Recession

  • Author(s): Catron, Peter
  • et al.

Previous research finds that in recent years immigrants had a higher propensity to unionize than native-born workers. However, there is little research that shows historically marginalized immigrant workers are able to maintain newly acquired union jobs, especially during times unfavorable to unionization more generally. Therefore, this paper focuses on immigrant unionization during the Great Recession of 2008 to determine whether the inroads that immigrants have made through organizing are maintained in hostile union environments. Using the Current Population Survey (CPS), I extend Rosenfeld and Kleykamp’s (2009) models for Hispanic unionization (which end in 2007) through the recent downturn and beyond. I find that Hispanic immigrants, who hold higher odds of union entry or membership in Rosenfeld and Kleykamp’s prerecession analysis, lost union jobs at an increased rate during the Great Recession compared with white native-born workers. These effects for Hispanic immigrants filter throughout various subcategories and control variables that include years since entry, citizenship status, and nationality. These results are likely not the result of unfavorable labor market allocation of immigrants, and to some degree undercut the hopes of those who view immigrants as the key to organized labor’s future and organized labor as the key to immigrant prosperity.

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