Unions have a huge impact on the working conditions, including the compensation of employees. In fact, even non-unionized employees can also benefit. According to data released in 2020, the public service sector has the highest number of unionized workers.

What Is a Labor Union?

It is an organization of workers who unite to make decisions about their working conditions. Labor unions intend to bring economic justice to the workplace, including pay, benefits, leave, hours, and work health and safety policies. This is done through collective bargaining, wherein they negotiate directly with companies on behalf of the employees.

Unions are funded by their members’ dues, which generally cost around $50 a month. In most cases, they hire paid personnel to handle their operations or sometimes volunteer members. Almost all industries have union members, like education services, construction, transportation, utilities, warehousing and manufactured goods, etc.

How Do Unions Impact Workers?

Higher Wages

Every place has a minimum pay mandated by their governments. It is the lowest compensation per hour that an employee might get. In the United States, as of 2021, the federal wage rate is $7.25 per hour.

Unions will present their arguments to the companies if they think that their workers do not get reasonable pay. The employers will then decide if they yield to their employees’ demands or present counterarguments. If unions fail to negotiate or are not satisfied with the outcomes of their collective bargaining, they may initiate strike or work cessation.

Workplace Safety

Unions often consider safety and health in the workplace as vital subjects of bargaining. They bargain for higher health and safety standards, including all elements contributing to better safety and workers’ happiness and satisfaction in the office.

For instance, they may negotiate mandatory health and wellness training in sectors with a high risk of injuries, such as the manufacturing industry. It could also be better equipment to prevent accidents.

Health Benefits

Data suggest that unionized workers are about 18% to 28% more likely to have health insurance coverage provided by their employers. They even get more generous health advantages than non-unionized workers. They also pay lower health deductibles at 18% and a smaller share for the family coverage costs.

After retirement, unionized workers can be covered by health insurance paid for by their employers.

More Vacation Time and Paid Leave

According to the same data, unionized employees receive 26% more vacation time and 14% more overall paid leave, such as holidays and vacations. Among the objectives of labor unions is to improve the standard of living for all workers. This can be attained by establishing an 8-hour workday, more vacation time, and paid leave to spend with their families.

Help Lessen Discrimination in the Workplace

In the United States, unions help raise the wages of women and Black and Hispanic workers. They help correct salary discrepancies. Records reveal that unionized Black and Hispanic workers get above-average wage boosts. This is the reason why Black workers tend to join more unions than their White colleagues.

The Bottom Line

Labor unions provide power to employees to have a voice in the workplace. Workers deserve a raise, health and safety in the work environment, and time off to care for an emergency. Since it’s almost impossible or difficult for one or two workers to negotiate with their employers, that’s when unions step in.

While there are drawbacks to being a member, such as monthly fees, the advantages help workers secure a better working life.


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