ORGANIZED LABOUR More than just benefits and job security, there are many advantages to joining a union – here are the Top 10.
1. Collective Bargaining – 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. 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. Collective Bargaining makes sure changes are negotiated rather than imposed.
2. 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.
“Economic research shows that unionized workers typically receive higher wages than otherwise comparable non-union workers. This “union wage advantage” is greatest for people who would otherwise be lower-paid workers. This group notably includes workers with less formal education and skills, younger and less experienced workers, and women and workers of colour who experience discrimination in the job market.” –The Broadbent Institute
Union workers are also more likely to enjoy consistent pay raises on a regular basis. With a non-union job, the employer can set the wage without any formal bargaining process or input from the employees.
3. Support – One other key benefit of working as a union employee is that a union representative will work with you should you have a personal issue with the employer.
“Unions are also important advocates of human rights and democracy. They provide workplace representation for their members, have some influence over workplace rules, and provide protection from arbitrary discipline and dismissal.
Non-union workers have theoretical access to a number of rights and standards through individual litigation and complaints under employment standards legislation, but these are basically means to seek redress after employment has been terminated. In short, unions give many workers a collective voice and some workplace power vis-à-vis their employers.” –The Broadbent Institute
4. A voice – Good workplace relations can also be a major positive: the important work of Freeman and Medoff (1984) emphasizes the importance to management of a collective union voice which facilitates joint labour/management discussion of workplace problems. This openness is enormously important: productivity is always a social process and not just a technical one. If individual workers are treated with dignity and respect; if workplace rules are perceived as fair; if workers can raise concerns and have them equitably resolved; if workers know that they will share the benefits of workplace change; and if workers have a say in working conditions, training, and health and safety issues, then workers are likely to work co-operatively with management. –The Broadbent Institute
5. Equality and Fairness – Public sector union wage increases have more or less matched private sector increases over the past decade. They have barely even matched inflation – despite economic growth. Moreover, the overall public sector pay advantage is very modest, and is almost entirely the product of higher pay for women in lower-paid occupations, and it is significantly offset by lower-than-private sector pay for mainly male workers in senior public sector professional and managerial jobs. –The Broadbent Institute
Collective bargaining agreements reflect economic realities and the desire of unions to maintain good jobs for all their members. Unions have been an important defender of human rights and economic equality, and a major reason why extreme income inequality is less pronounced in Canada.
6. Job Security – Unionized workplaces also tend to have far lower worker turnover, giving an employer the benefit of experienced workers and an incentive to invest in the skills of employees knowing that they are unlikely to leave the firm. It is easy to see how much, if not all, of the union wage advantage is offset by benefits for employers.
7. Stronger Economy – IMF released a report stating that the decline in unionization is directly correctly to the growing margin of income inequality.
“A large majority — four out of five Canadians or 80% — believe the gap between the rich and everyone else has widened over the last decade. Yet large majorities, regardless of demographics or political preference, believe the federal government can and should do something to reduce inequality.” –The Broadbent Institute
8. Better Training – Unions offer greater opportunities for training advancement to its’ members guaranteeing that they will be safer on the site, avoiding more injuries and potential safety hazards.
9. Health and Safety – Unionized members are held to the highest standard when it comes to health and safety. Ensuring that all members are protected and given the right equipment and resources to avoid possible injuries.
10. Rewards and Benefits – Unions often times have access to greater loyalty reward programs, scholarships, and benefits for members and their families.