Unions play an important part in the compensation and work lives of both unionized and nonunionized workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Employee Benefit Research Institute have data that compares the impact of union representation on wages, fringe benefits, total compensation, pay inequality, and workplace protections.
Some of the major findings:
- Median weekly wages of unionized workers are roughly 28% higher that weekly wages for nonunion wage earners.
- Median weekly wages of unionized women workers are roughly 34% higher that weekly wages for nonunion women wage earners.
The most sweeping advantage for unionized workers is in fringe benefits:
- Unionized workers covered by employer-provided health outpace nonunion counterparts by 53%.
- Union workers covered by guaranteed (defined-benefit) pensions show a 285% advantage over nonunion workers covered by guaranteed (defined-benefit) pensions.
Unions play a pivotal role both in securing legislated labor protections and rights such as safety and health, overtime, and family/medical leave and in enforcing those rights on the job. Because unionized workers are more informed, they are more likely to benefit from social insurance programs such as unemployment insurance and workers compensation. Unions are thus an intermediary institution that provides a necessary complement to legislated benefits and protections.
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