NEWARK, N.J., February 15, 2017 - While a majority of baby boomer union members say they have a strong sense of pride in their work, only a quarter of millennial union members agree, highlighting a striking disconnect in attitudes about work among union members across generations, according to a survey commissioned by Prudential Retirement. But the survey also reveals opportunities for unions to engage millennial members, a majority of whom view jobs from a technologically advanced economy as a chance for unions to gain new members and influence.
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The findings, summarized in “Union Perseverance: Taking the Pulse of America’s Union Workers,” reveal that one top priority for union members of all generations is more union-sponsored job training to help members keep up in a rapidly changing workplace. The survey was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Prudential Retirement. Prudential Retirement, the nation’s leading provider of Taft-Hartley plans, has more than 60 years of experience providing union members with retirement security. Prudential Retirement is a unit of Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE:PRU).
“The survey reveals the delicate balancing act that unions will have to navigate in meeting the changing needs of their members,” said Scott Boyd, head of Taft-Hartley Solutions at Prudential Retirement. “Historically, unions have played a unique role in giving workers a critical voice on issues like safety, pay, work hours, as well as access to healthcare and retirement benefits. By sponsoring this research, Prudential is proud to partner with unions to help them respond to member needs, which are quickly evolving because of technology, globalization and the shift in membership to a younger generation.”
- There is a generational disconnect among union members.
- Only 27 percent of millennials said they have a strong sense of pride in their work, compared to 53 percent of baby boomers.
- 59 percent of millennials vs. 47 percent of baby boomers cite low wages as a top concern.
- 39 percent of millennials rank medical benefits as a top concern vs. 52 percent of baby boomers.
- Millennials have higher expectations of unions and the overall workplace.
- Millennials and baby boomer members agree there has been improvement in wages and benefits, but disagree about whether unions should get the credit.
- 34 percent of millennial members say unions have been at the forefront of gaining fair wages, compared to 47 percent for boomers; for access to benefits, the gap is even bigger, 28 percent vs. 44 percent, respectively.
- Unions can improve engagement by offering training or other new approaches.
- 67 percent of union members want new skills and 68 percent say unions should offer more training and apprentice programs.
- 56 percent of millennials say new jobs from a technologically advanced economy provide an opportunity for unions to gain members, and 61 percent say they are interested in future work trends like telecommuting or the rise of the sharing economy through companies like Uber.
Millennials now occupy the largest share of the nation’s labor force. Crucially for unions, millennial union members are becoming a larger voice in setting union priorities as their baby boomer counterparts retire.
But despite clear differences in generational attitudes, all generations in the survey agree that the core union mission of collective bargaining should remain unchanged. Most members say unions should focus on negotiating wages and benefits (58 percent), and protecting the security of pensions and other employee benefits (51 percent). And when members are asked which groups will play a critical role in protecting the welfare of U.S. workers in the future, 55 percent cited labor unions as the top institution.
To view the complete survey, please visit: bit.ly/PruTaft-Hartley
About the research
In September 2016 the Economist Intelligence Unit conducted a survey, sponsored by Prudential, exploring the key concerns and aspirations of union members. Altogether, the survey included 1,573 active union members aged 18 and over, employed in 15 industries across the United States. The survey sample includes members of the millennial cohort, generation X and baby boomer generations.
About Prudential Retirement:
Prudential Retirement delivers retirement plan solutions for public, private, and nonprofit organizations. Services include defined contribution, defined benefit and non-qualified deferred compensation recordkeeping, administrative services, investment management, comprehensive employee education and communications, and trustee services, as well as a variety of products and strategies, including institutional investment and income products, pension risk transfer solutions and structured settlement services. With more than 85 years of retirement experience, Prudential Retirement helps meet the needs of 4.2 million participants and annuitants. Prudential Retirement has $386.2 billion in retirement account values as of Dec. 31, 2016. Retirement products and services are provided by Prudential Retirement Insurance and Annuity Company (PRIAC), Hartford, Conn., or its affiliates.
As the leading provider of Taft-Hartley retirement solutions, according to Pensions & Investments ranking of Taft-Hartley DC assets under management as of Sept. 30, 2015, Prudential Retirement manages $23.5 billion in assets on behalf of 460,000 union members participating in 204 plans.