Union Members’ Benefits Nearly Twice As Generous As Non Union Workers

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From 2001 to 2011, through one mild recession and one huge one, union workers maintained their wage edge compared to all other workers.

A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics Analysis  shows that the average union worker in March 2011 earned $23.02 hourly, or nearly $48,000 a year, and the average non-union worker earned $19.51 hourly, or about $40,600 a year.

The wage difference varied over the 11 years, but there was an average $3.88 an hour advantage to union members.

Union members’ wages actually rose slower than those who aren’t in unions — up 25 percent over 11 years compared to 32 percent — but both groups’ wage gains were far smaller than the inflation in employers’ benefit costs.

The amount companies spent on insurance, retirement and paid days off grew 46 percent during the period for non-union workers and 55 percent for union members.

Where the unions really deliver for their members is in benefits. By 2011, the average value of all fringe benefits  — health insurance, dental insurance, vacations, pension, paid sick leave, disability coverage, employer matches on 401(K) plans —  was $14.67 an hour for union members.

By contrast, the 87 percent of workers who aren’t represented by unions received $7.56 an hour in fringe benefits. The union members’ benefits were worth almost twice as much.

Among unionized workers, 93 percent have health insurance offered by their employers, and 69 percent of non-union workers do.

The big differences — 70 percent of unionized workers in the private sector have traditional pensions. For those who work outside government, and are not in a union, just 14 percent have pensions.

In many cases, those workers have no support for retirement outside Social Security — just 59 percent have an employer contribution to a 401(k).




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5 thoughts on “Union Members’ Benefits Nearly Twice As Generous As Non Union Workers

  1. art

    Except for govt workers i dont know any union workers. I imagine there are some at UTC..also Stop and Shop.. Where else. That means that the article could easily say “PUblic sector workers nearly twice as generous as private sector”. What else is there in Hartford anymore than govt workers..either state or the various municpialities

    1. Mara Lee Post author

      There are thousands at UTC, and hundreds at other manufacturers around the state. There are also Teamsters who deliver Coca-Cola, beer, etc. to grocery stores. All the utility blue collar workers are represented by a union. About a third of the workers in nursing homes are unionized, and so are some hospital nurses.
      But you are right, the government is more highly unionized than the private sector.

      1. alan

        I know many people who work in manufacturing but except for UTC and EB i dont know any others in unions. When you talkd about “hundreds” at other manufacturers you make my point..HUNDREDS of people..not companies! I dont count health care or even utilities as they are regulated and therefore quasi govt. SNET used to have 50,000 people, now less than 5k. UTC is tiny compared to before. Coke drivers..wow..we are stretching

          1. Mara Lee Post author

            Data man, your data is right, but doesn’t counter Alan’s point about the disparate unionization in public and private sector. Nationwide, nearly 36 percent of public workers were in unions, and less than 7 percent of private sector workers were. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm
            Both figures are higher in Connecticut — nearly all public workers here are in a union, except high-level managers; we also have a somewhat higher private sector union penetration because we have higher-than-average manufacturing employment.
            I forgot as I was giving examples to Alan earlier, there are also unionized construction workers. Those guys who repave the roads — they’re in a union.

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