If you’re a union member there is a lot to be thankful for this Labor Day.
First, there’s your wages. On average, a union member makes $10.67 more than their nonunion counterparts. Put another way, the union wage premium—the percentage of a member’s wage that is higher than a nonunion member—is nearly 14 percent.
|From wages to benefits to job protections, there is a lot for union members to celebrate this Labor Day
What’s more, these higher wages often support more than just members. The salaries of everyone – not just union members – are higher in states without right-to-work laws.
“Union wages are the wages that everyone should be making,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. “It has always been about fair pay for a fair day’s work.”
And then there are the benefits. Unionized workers are 28 percent more likely to be covered by employer-provided health insurance and 54 percent more likely to have employer-provided pensions. Union members are also more likely to have paid sick days and flexible leave. In addition, unionized employees are more likely to know about the Family Medical Leave Act – and have less insecurity about using it. The FMLA allows employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for family and medical reasons while maintaining their insurance.
For women, the benefits get even better. Union women earn on average 31 percent more per week than nonunion women. The gender pay gap is also smaller for women in unions, putting them more on par with their male counterparts.
Nonunion people working in the private sector are often discouraged if not outright prohibited from discussing salary, something that exacerbates the gender wage gap. The transparency in criteria and decision-making about compensation, recruitment and promotions that happens in a union can prevent bias which helps women achieve equity in their careers.
In addition to having employer-sponsored healthcare benefits and pensions, a union woman’s higher income increases the likelihood that she can afford the skyrocketing costs of childcare.
Union representation also narrows the gap between white employees and employees of color. Median weekly earnings are 36 percent greater for unionized African-Americans than for their nonunion counterparts. For Asian-Americans the difference is eight percent. For Hispanic members it is almost half at 46 percent.
Working people of color in unions are also more likely to have employer-provided benefits, with the benefits being richer, than the nonunion alternative and employer-sponsored retirement plans and pensions.
Furthermore, union representation bolsters protections against discrimination and gives members more tools to fight for their rights. A collective bargaining agreement makes employment practices more transparent and therefore less likely to be arbitrary and biased. In fact, they often explicitly ban discriminatory practices.
“A union contract is a powerful thing to have and one of the best ways to level the playing field,” Stephenson said.
So while enjoying your three-day weekend make sure to raise a glass – of a union-made beverage – for the movement that made it all possible.