Unions have a substantial influence on the working conditions, including the compensation of employees. In fact, even non-unionized workers can benefit. According to data released in 2020, the public service sector has the most significant 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 aim to bring economic justice to the workplace, including pay, benefits, leave, hours, and work health and safety policies. They do this through collective bargaining, wherein they negotiate directly with companies on behalf of the workers.
Unions are funded by their members’ monthly dues, which usually cost approximately $50 a month. In most cases, they hire paid personnel to manage their operations or volunteer members. Almost all industries have union members, such as educational services, construction, warehouse and manufactured goods, transportation, utilities, and others.
How Do Unions Affect Employees?
Every place has a minimum wage 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 employers if they think that their employees do not get reasonable pay. The companies will then decide if they give in to their workers’ demands or present counterarguments. If unions fail to negotiate or are not satisfied with the outcomes of their collective bargaining, they might initiate strike or work cessation.
Unions consider safety and health in the workplace as important subjects of bargaining. They bargain for higher health and safety standards, including all factors that add to better safety and workers’ happiness and contentment in the workplace.
For instance, they might negotiate necessary health and safety training in sectors with a high risk of injuries, such as the manufacturing industry. It could also be better equipment to avoid accidents.
Data show that unionized workers are about 18% to 28% more likely to have health insurance provided by their employers. They 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 employees can be covered by health insurance paid for by their employers.
More Vacation Time and Paid Leave
According to the same data, unionized workers get 26% more vacation time and 14% more total paid leave, such as vacation and holidays. One of the goals of labor unions is to enhance the standard of living for all workers. This can be accomplished by establishing an 8-hour workday, more holiday time, and paid leave to spend with their families.
Help Lessen Discrimination in the Office
In the United States, unions aid in increasing the earnings of women and Black and Hispanic employees. They help correct salary discrepancies. Records reveal that unionized Black and Hispanic workers get above-average wage increases. That’s why Black workers tend to join more unions than their White coworkers.
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 workplace, and time off to take care of an emergency. Because it’s nearly impossible or difficult for one or two employees to negotiate with their employers, that’s when unions step in.
Though there are drawbacks to being a union member, such as paying monthly dues, the benefits help workers achieve a better working life.