Workers join unions for dignity, respect and a voice on the job in addition to increased pay and benefits. A newly released survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics details the increased benefits received by union workers compared to non-union workers
After years of service, workers deserve a secure retirement. Unfortunately, only 44 percent of non-union workers receive retirement benefits; either defined benefit, defined contribution or both. Just 14 percent have a defined benefit plan that pays out a set amount every month, regardless of fluctuations in the stock market. Thirty-six percent have riskier defined contribution plans like 401(k)s whose payouts rise and fall with the investments that make-up the plan. As employees at Enron and WorldCom have discovered, defined contribution retirement funds may not be there when it's time to retire. In stark contrast, 83 percent of union workers have retirement benefits and nearly 70 percent have the safer, defined benefit plans.
In the absence of universal health coverage, most Americans count on employers
to provide medical, dental and vision care. Leaving the provision of these benefits to employers means that nearly 50 percent of all workers have no medical care through their employer, and far fewer have dental and vision coverage. However, for union workers that is not the case. Seventy-five percent of all private sector union workers have medical benefits, 53 percent have dental care and 41 percent have vision care.
Life insurance is an important benefit for working families, and once again, union workers are much more likely than their non-union counterparts to receive it, 82 percent compared to 51 percent.
Short and long term disability benefits provide income security in the case of a disabling accident or illness. While there is not much difference between union and non-union workers in their receipt of long-term disability benefits, 28 percent and 25 percent respectively, there is a large gap when it comes to short-term disability. With 70 percent of union workers receiving benefits, compared to just 30 percent of non-union workers, the advantage of union representation is clear.
Paid Time Off
Trying to balance work and family is difficult at best, but it's even harder without paid time off. This is yet another area where union workers fare better than non-union workers. Ninety-three percent of union workers receive paid vacations, versus 79 percent of non-union workers. Similarly, union workers are more likely to receive paid holidays (89 percent compared to 76 percent).