Report on worker benefits shows union advantage

A new federal report shows that union members may be your best friends with benefits.

The survey found that 93 percent of all union workers in the United States had employer-provided retirement benefits, 93 percent had health care benefits and 85 percent had life insurance benefits.

On the other hand, only 64 percent of non-union workers had some kind of retirement plan at work, 69 percent had some kind of health care and only 57 percent had life insurance through their employer.

“We often say it pays to be union,” said Tom Wroblewski, the president of Machinists Union District Lodge 751. “We should also say there are benefits to being union too.”

The survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics looked at benefits provided by all employers across the United States as of March 2011. It excluded federal government workers and people employed in private homes.

The data also showed that people working under union contracts are more likely to get paid sick leave and personal leave:

  • 84 percent of union members receive paid sick leave from their employers, compared to 64 percent of non-union workers; and
  • 59 percent of union members receive paid personal leave days, compared to 38 percent of non-union workers.

The data on retirement, health and paid leave benefits follows a report released earlier this year that showed union workers are paid on average 28 percent better than non-union workers.

The BLS data showed that nationwide, union workers are paid $917 a week (or $47,684 a year) while non-union workers make only $717 a week — which is $37,284 a year.

“Ten thousand dollars a year is enough to make a real difference for a working family,” said Wroblewski. “Buying a new car, or saving for a new house or a child’s education — those basic parts of the American Dream are more realistic when you have a union contract. That’s the union advantage.”

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents some 28,500 working men and women at 45 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2010, District 751 members used collective bargaining to reach contracts with 22 of those employers, without a single work day lost to strikes.

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  1. [...] on a recent federal study that shows some of the biggest benefits to belonging to a union are the superior health care, retirement and life insurance benefits union members earn with their union [...]

  2. [...] separate federal report last fall also showed the union members typically have far better benefit packages to go with their superior [...]

  3. [...] workers also have better benefits at work, federal data [...]



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