A labor union is an organization that acts as an intermediary between its members and the business that employ them. The main purpose of labor unions is to give workers the power to negotiate for more favorable working conditions and other benefits through collective bargaining.
Collective bargaining is the heart and soul of the labor union. Collective bargaining occurs when a group of people, such as the workforce at a company, bands together to increase its negotiating power. For instance, a single worker might feel that a certain new safety measure should be implemented in his factory, but he might have limited power to get the company to install the new measure.
Labor unions band workers together, allowing the voices of individual workers to be heard and possibly made into a goal of the union.
If the entire workforce is made aware of the need for the new measure and bands together to pressure the company to install it, there is a much greater chance that the company will comply. Labor unions band workers together, allowing the voices of individual workers to be heard and possibly made into a goal of the union. Unionized workers typically elect representatives to bring concerns to the union’s attention.
- Higher Wages
- One of the top benefits of being a union worker is that you enjoy a better wage as compared to your non-union counterparts. Union workers get about 20 percent more in terms of wages (not including benefits) compared to others in similar jobs that aren’t supported by a union. Union workers are also more likely to enjoy consistent pay raises on a regular basis. This is due to collective bargaining between the union (on behalf of the employees) and the employer that results in an agreement setting out clear terms regarding pay and wages. With a non-union job, the employer can set the wage without any formal bargaining process or input from the employee.
- Better Benefits
- On average, union workers are more likely to enjoy better benefits compared to non-union employees. That includes health, retirement accounts, and paid sick leave. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 77 percent of union workers get pensions (guaranteed continued payments) after they retire from the job, compared to only 20 percent of non-union workers. Again, union representatives work out these details as a part of the collective bargaining agreement with the employer.
- Your Representative
- One other key benefit of working as a union employee is that union representatives work on your behalf if you have a personal issue with the employer. Non-union employees have to contact the company’s human resources department for assistance, but it’s important to keep in mind that the department is part of the company. Meeting with a boss and the employer’s HR representative can make an employee with a gripe feel outnumbered or vulnerable. A union representative will come into a meeting between you and the employer to help resolve the issue.