In this PrOPEL Hub Research Showcase video Rhys Davies, Professor Alan Felstead and Professor Alex Bryson explore the importance of family, history and place in supporting favourable attitudes towards union membership.
Trade union membership is regarded both as a route to and a key indicator of fair work. Union membership is associated with higher earnings and a variety of other benefits for employees. Furthermore, the negative effects of unions on the performance of businesses, once a common feature of empirical studies, also appears to have vanished. To the contrary, recent research demonstrates that unions support employee-driven innovation. Union membership therefore appears to be good for workers and employers and has been held up as an important instrument to achieving stronger and more inclusive economies.
Within all this, some rather fundamental questions about why people join trade unions appear to have been overlooked. In this video, Rhys Davies (Cardiff University) and Professor Alex Bryson (UCL) join chair Professor Alan Felstead (Cardiff University) to explore the importance of family, history and place in supporting favourable attitudes towards union membership.
Firstly, data from the British Household Panel Survey is used to examine how union membership among parents influences the union joining behaviour of young workers. The speakers then share WISERD’s new Union Map tool which presents estimates of trade union membership and the coverage of collective pay agreements for detailed geographical areas using figures derived from the Labour Force Survey. Using this data, they demonstrate how villages and towns in the UK that are located in areas once dominated by coalmining remain among the strongest and most durable bases for the trade union movement. The results raise important questions regarding the revitalization of the labour movement and how cultural traditions are important to supporting the promotion of fair work.
Slides from the session can be downloaded below.
For more detail on the evidence behind this video, see:
- Bryson, A. and Davies, R. (2019), Family, Place and the Intergenerational Transmission of Union Membership. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 57: 624-650. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjir.12435
- Beynon, H, Blakely, H, Bryson, A, Davies, R. The persistence of union membership within the coalfields of Britain. British Journal of Industrial Relations. 2021; 1- 22. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjir.12588