Work Union. Live Better.

Americans have always joined together to solve problems and make changes that improve their lives.  Today in the United States, more than 16 million working people exercise their freedom to join together and negotiate a fair return on their work.

This Labor Day, we fight to protect the freedom of all working people to join together in strong unions.  Workers united are the most powerful force to push back on inequality, wage loses and a political system that fails to represent most Americans.  Here’s proof from a new report by the Economic Policy Institute.

How do today’s unions help working people?

Union workers earn more.  Union workers typically earn about 13 percent more than their non-union peers.

Union women earn more.  Women represented by unions earn 9 percent more than their non-union peers.  Women who work in Minnesota’s public sector earn equal pay for equal work.  Meanwhile, non-union women still earn only 78 cents for every dollar a man makes.

Unions close the wage gap for black and Hispanic workers.  Black union members today earn 14.7 percent more and Hispanic union members earn 21.8 percent more than their non-union peers.  Union contracts establish pay transparency, where workers know what other workers earn.  That allows unions to correct salary discrepancies and establish fair terms for raises and promotions.  Unions also help workers who have been discriminated against achieve equity on the job.                

Unions keep workers safe.  There are fewer injuries and fatalities in unionized workplaces and fewer health and safety violations at unionized construction sites.  In recent years, unions have helped nurses secure protection from violence in the workplace, helped laborers avoid exposure to disease-causing chemicals, and helped firefighters receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Unions support strong families with better health care.  More than 90 percent of workers covered by a union contract have employer-sponsored health care benefits, compared with 70 percent of non-union workers.  The employer contribution to unionized workers’ benefits is 77 percent higher than the employer’s contribution for non-union workers. 

Unions help workers retire with dignity.  Union members are more likely to have pensions and employers tend to contribute more to their plans.  Today, 90 percent of union workers participate in a retirement plan, compared with 75 percent of non-union workers.  Also, 74 percent of union workers who have pensions participate in a traditional defined benefit pension, compared with 15 percent of non-union workers.    

Unions help workers share ideas about how to improve workplaces without fear of retaliation.  Working people on the frontlines have some of the best ideas to make their workplaces more productive.  Unions provide the means for workers to share their knowledge about what works and what doesn’t.      

No wonder the popularity of unions has grown in recent years.  Their favorability hit 60 percent in a January 2017 survey by Pew.  In fact, unions are most popular among young people; even a majority of millennial Republicans support unions!

Union workers are diverse, just like America

IB Image
  • 46% of union members are women
  • 36% are people of color
  • 42% have a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • 40% work in education and health services
  • 21% work in transportation, utilities and manufacturing

Source: Economic Policy Institute, How today’s unions help working people, August 2017.