Study: Union workers earn more

Union workers in Washington earn an average of $3.05 an hour more than their non-union counterparts, a new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research says.

Union Yesgr blueIn addition, there’s a 20-percentage-point gap between Washington’s union and non-union workers when it comes to having company-paid health insurance benefits, and a 30-point gap in the percentage of workers who have a company-sponsored retirement plan, the study found. In both cases, union membership had its advantages.

Those are among the findings of the center’s new national report titled “The Unions of the States,” which was compiled from federal survey data taken from 2003-09.

“The union presence varies across states, but unions substantially raise wages and benefits for workers in every state,” said John Schmitt, the author of the report. He is a senior economist for the center, which is based in Washington, D.C.

In Washington, the difference was clear:

  • Average pay for union workers statewide was $24.25 an hour, compared to $21.20 an hour for non-union — a difference of 14.4 percent each paycheck, or more than $6,300 over the course of a year;
  • 81.7 percent of union workers have company-provided health insurance, compared to 61.3 percent of non-union workers;
  • 78.6 percent of of union workers had company-sponsored retirement plans, compared to 48 percent of non-union workers.

Some 21 percent of all Washington workers are union members, according to the report. That’s the fifth-highest percentage nationwide. (New York was first at 26.4 percent.)

But — likely as a result of the union influence — Washington workers have better pay and benefits than the national average, whether they belong to unions or not. On a national basis, the center found that:

  • Average pay for all American union workers is $23.64 an hour, while non-union workers nationwide average $19.77 an hour;
  • 80.1 percent of union workers nationwide have company health insurance, while only 55.8 percent of non-union workers do;
  • 76 percent of union workers nationally have company-sponsored retirement plans, compared to only 45 percent of non-union workers.

To prove the point, here are the comparison figures for South Carolina, where only 4.9 percent of the workforce belongs to unions — the second-lowest percentage in the nation (behind North Carolina at 4.1 percent):

  • Average pay is $21.39 an hour for union workers and $17.75 an hour for non-union;
  • 80.5 percent of South Carolina’s union workers have employer-provided health insurance, compared to 55.7 percent of non-union workers;
  • 70.7 percent of the state’s union workers have employer-sponsored retirement plans, compared to 45.1 percent of non-union workers.

The study also looked at education levels, and found that union workers in Washington are less likely to be high school dropouts and more likely to either be college graduates or to have at least some college training, compared to national averages.

To contact a District 751 officer for information on how a union contract could help you, click here.

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  1. […] story that quantifies the benefits Washington workers reap from union membership – namely, an advantage of $3.05 an hour in wages, plus significantly better health-care and […]

  2. […] bureau has yet to report its findings on health care and retirement benefits for 2010, but previous data covering 2009 showed that nationwide, 80 percent of workers with union contracts had company health insurance, […]



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