Unions have substantial effects on the working conditions, including the compensation of workers. Actually, 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 employees who come together 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. It is done through collective bargaining, wherein they negotiate directly with companies on behalf of the workers.
Unions are funded by their members’ dues, which typically cost around $50 a month. Often, they hire paid staff to manage their operations or sometimes volunteer members. Almost all industries have union members, such as educational services, construction, transportation, utilities, warehousing production, etc.
How Do Unions Impact Workers?
Every place has a minimum wage mandated by their governments. It is the lowest pay per hour that an employee may 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 believe that their workers don’t get reasonable pay. The employers will then decide if they give in to their employees’ demands or present counterarguments. If unions fail to negotiate or are not satisfied with the results of their collective bargaining, they may initiate strike or work cessation.
Safety in the Workplace
Unions consider safety and health in the workplace as mandatory subjects of bargaining. They bargain for health and safety standards, including all aspects that contribute to better safety and staff members’ happiness and contentment in the work environment.
For instance, they may negotiate mandatory health and safety training in sectors with a high risk of injuries, such as the manufacturing industry. It could also be better equipment to prevent accidents.
Data suggest that unionized workers are about 18% to 28% more likely to have health insurance provided by their companies. They get more generous health benefits 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 Holiday Time and Paid Leave
According to the same data, unionized staff members get 26% more vacation time and 14% more total paid leave, such as holidays and vacations. 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 and more holiday time and paid leave to spend with their families.
Help Lessen Discrimination in the Workplace
In the United States, unions help to raise the incomes of females and Black and Hispanic workers. They help correct income discrepancies. Records reveal that unionized Black and Hispanic employees 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 enable employees to have a voice in the workplace. Workers deserve a raise, health and safety in the work environment, and time off to look after an emergency. Considering that it’s almost impossible or hard for one or two employees to negotiate with their employers, that’s when unions step in.
Though there are downsides to being a member, such as monthly fees, the advantages help employees protect a much better working life.