States with higher union membership also have higher average weekly wages: The BLS says the average weekly wage in New York in the fourth quarter of 2013 was $1,266 — 26 percent higher than the U.S. average.
And New York unions are still flexing their political muscles. The state legislature passed a minimum-wage increase in 2013, gradually raising the rate to $9 an hour by the end of 2015. Unions also put a big effort into electing progressive New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the city’s teachers union and city workers unions scored promising new contracts this year.
The New York legislature was the first to consider making Labor Day an official holiday, though Oregon’s lawmakers passed a bill first. U.S. Sen. Robert Wagner (D-N.Y.) was the lead sponsor of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, which permitted private-sector workers to unionize and bargain collectively. His son, Robert Wagner Jr., allowed public-sector collective bargaining when he was mayor of New York City.
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