The Union Advantage: Facts and Figures

Going Union

Being a member of a union can have a direct impact on the quality of life for you and your family.

Workers’ Pay Is Higher When They Are In A Union

The median weekly earnings of union workers are 28 percent higher than non-union workers.

$917 = Median weekly earnings in 2010 of union members.

$717 = Median weekly earnings in 2010 of non-union workers.

That’s a yearly difference in salary of $10,400 for union members vs. non-union members.

Greater Access to Healthcare Coverage; Lower Cost

In 2009, 92 percent of union employees in the U.S. had access to health care benefits, compared to only 68 percent of non-union workers.

The union advantage is even greater when you compare the percentages of union vs. non-union workers receiving specific benefits:

  • Dental Care: Union, 70% | Non-union: 44%
  • Vision care: Union, 53% | Non-union: 24%
  • Prescription drug benefits: Union, 90% | Non-union, 68%

Union workers nationwide are 28.2 percent more likely to be covered by employer-provided health insurance.

Paid Leave

  • Union workers get 28 percent more days of paid vacation, on average, than non-union workers.
  • 82 percent of union workers have paid sick leave, compared to 63 percent of nonunion workers.
  • 46 percent of unionized workers receive full pay while on sick leave, versus only 29 percent of non-union workers. 

A More Secure Retirement

  • Nationally, 77 percent of union employees in 2009 were covered by pension plans that provide a guaranteed monthly retirement income. Only 20 percent of non-union workers are covered by guaranteed (defined-benefit) pensions 20%.
  • Union workers are 53.9 percent more likely to have employer-provided pensions.

Demographics Of The Union Difference


Women make up 45 percent of union workers and by 2020, will be the majority of the unionized workforce.

  Unionization raises female workers’ wages by $2.00/hour (or 11.2 percent)

Women are also:

  • 19 percent more likely to have employer paid health insurance and
  • 24.7 percent more likely to have pension.
  • Joining a union has a much larger effect on a woman’s probability of having health insurance than a four-year college degree (8.4 percent increase).
  • Unionized women of color earn almost 35% percent more than non-union women of color.


  • 10.7 percent of unionized workers are Latino (up from 9.8% in 2007)
  • Latinos represent the largest growth rate of unionized workers–in 2008, more than 140,000 Hispanics became union members.
  • Unionization raises Latino workers’ wages by $2.60/hour (17.1 percent) and makes them 26 percent more likely to have employer paid health insurance and 27 percent more likely to have pension.
  • Low-wage Latinos who belong to a union are 41 percent more likely to have employer-paid health insurance.

African Americans

  • 54 percent of all full-time Black workers in the United States receive low wages, working for $12.87 an hour or less
  • Unionization raises African American workers’ wages by $2.00/hour (11.2 percent)

Low-wage Workers

  • Unionization raises the wages of the typical low-wage worker (one in the 10th percentile) by 20.6 percent.
  • Among women workers in the 15 lowest-paying occupations, female union members earn 14 percent more than those workers who were not in unions.

Research by SEIU, Center for American Progress, The Bureau of Labor Statistics, UC Berkeley Labor Center, Labor Project for Working Families, the Center for Economic and Policy Research and the Employee Benefits Research Institute.


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