Data shows clear benefits to belonging to a union

Union workers are far more likely to have employer-provided health care and retirement benefits than their non-union counterparts, recently released federal data shows.

union-yesUnion workers also are somewhat more likely to have paid sick leave, vacation and paid holidays, the data shows.

“Clearly, there’s a benefit to belonging to a union,” said Tom Wroblewski, the president of Machinists Union District Lodge 751.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s annual survey of employee benefits found that:

  • 95 percent of union workers have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, compared to 63 percent of non-union workers;
  • 95 percent of union workers have employer-paid medical benefits, compared to 68 percent of non-union workers; and
  • 86 percent of union workers have life insurance, compared to 56 percent of non-union.

When it comes to health insurance, the data suggests that non only are union workers more likely to have it, the insurance is likely to be better.

Most American employers pay for the majority of the cost of their workers’ health-insurance premiums. But union workers, on average, pay only 13 percent of the cost of individual health insurance, and 20 percent of the cost of family coverage.

Non-union workers, on the other hand, are forced to pay 21 percent of the cost of individual coverage, and a whopping 35 percent of the cost of family coverage.

One statistic on medical benefits really stands out, Wroblewski said.

“Only 50 percent of non-union workers sign up for health insurance benefits at work,” he pointed out. “That says to me that their insurance is so bad, or so expensive, that it’s not worth the cost to them.

“A health insurance benefit that you can’t afford to use isn’t much of a benefit at all,” Wroblewski continued. “But sadly, that’s the reality for many working Americans who are forced to work without a union contract.”

There’s been a national push to provide workers with paid sick leave, especially those working in the food service industry. But already, 84 percent of union workers have paid sick leave, compared to 62 percent of non-union workers

Finally, the survey found that 81 percent of union workers get paid holidays, compared to 75 percent of non-union workers, and 75 percent of union workers have paid vacation, compared to 74 percent of non-union workers.

The survey didn’t study the average length of vacation.

The report on benefits follows a separate federal report earlier this year that showed that union workers on average earn $10,500 a year more than non-union workers who perform similar work. That’s a difference of 27 percent.

“All of us want the same things for our families,” Wroblewski said. “We want to have nice homes. We want our children to be healthy, and we want to save money for their educations. We want to retire ourselves with some security and dignity.

“All these basic parts of the American Dream are more likely to become a reality for workers who have union contracts,” he continued. “That’s why we say it pays to be union.”

To contact a District 751 officer to talk about how a union contract could benefit you, go online at


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