Unions have a substantial effect on the working conditions, including the salaries of employees. In fact, even non-unionized employees can benefit. According to data released in 2020, the public services sector has the highest number of unionized workers.

What Is a Labor Union?

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

Unions are funded by their members’ dues, which typically cost approximately $50 a month. Usually, they employ paid personnel to manage their operations or sometimes volunteer members. Nearly all industries have union members, such as educational services, construction, transportation, utilities, and so on.

How Do Unions Impact Employees?

Higher Incomes

Every place has a minimum wage mandated by their governments. It is the lowest pay per hour that an employee may receive. 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 outcomes of their collective bargaining, they may initiate strike or work cessation. 

Work Environment Safety

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 example, they may 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 for workers who are warehousing everything related to manufacturing.

Health Benefits

Data says 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 employees. Also, they 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 total paid leave, such as vacation and holidays. One of the intentions of labor unions is to improve the standard of living for all workers. This can be achieved by establishing an 8-hour work per day and 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 females and Black and Hispanic employees. They play a vital role in correcting salary disparities. Records show that unionized Black and Hispanic workers receive above-average wage boosts. That’s why Black workers tend to join more unions than their white colleagues.

The Bottom Line

Labor unions allow 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 situation. Considering that 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 downsides to being a member, such as monthly fees, the benefits help employees secure a better working life.