It’s long been known that union members earn higher wages and better benefits than non-union workers. Now, a new study quantifies just how much better it is to be empowered by collective bargaining.
“The Union Effect in California,” an analysis by the University of California at Berkeley Labor Center, offers new insights into the union advantage. While the study is limited to California workers, its findings should be largely applicable to the rest of the country.
Notably, “The Union Effect in California” found that:
In addition, the report notes the impact of California’s strong labor movement in enacting state policies that protect workers. “With the support and backing of labor, California has passed ambitious laws promoting the rights of workers—union and nonunion alike—as well as policies advancing the common good broadly,” the authors wrote. These include becoming the first state in the country to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, passing a paid sick leave law, cracking down on wage theft, and strengthening workplace safety laws — most notably, a mandatory outdoor heat exposure regulation, making California the only state to have established a formal standard.
The study makes crystal clear that in this time of unprecedented attacks on the labor movement — most notably the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling — joining a union remains the best investment any worker can make in his or her living standards, health and retirement security, and workplace rights and safety.