Arkansas AFL-CIO

Why You Need a Union

Union workers get more benefits and earn higher wages than workers who don’t have a voice on the job with a union.

Union workers participating in job-provided health insurance 79%
Nonunion workers participating in job-provided health insurance 52%
Union workers are 52 percent more likely than nonunion workers to have job-provided health care


Union workers without health insurance coverage 2.5%
Nonunion workers without health insurance coverage 15%
Nonunion workers are five times more likely to lack health insurance coverage


Union workers participating in guaranteed (defined-benefit) pension plans 77%
Nonunion workers participating in guaranteed (defined-benefit) pension plans 20%
Union workers are 285 percent (nearly three times) more likely than nonunion workers to have defined-benefit pensions


Union workers with paid personal leave 57%
Nonunion workers with paid personal leave 38%
Union workers are 50 percent more likely than nonunion workers to have paid personal leave


Union workers’ average days of paid vacation 15 days
Nonunion workers’ average days of paid vacation 11.75 days
Union paid vacation advantage 28%


Union workers’ median weekly earnings $886
Nonunion workers’ median weekly earnings $691
Union wage advantage 28%


Union women’s median weekly earnings $809
Nonunion women’s median weekly earnings $615
Union wage advantage for women 32%


African American union workers’ median weekly earnings $720
African American nonunion workers’ median weekly earnings $564
Union wage advantage for African Americans 28%


Latino union workers’ median weekly earnings $733
Latino nonunion workers’ median weekly earnings $512
Union wage advantage for Latinos 43%


Asian American union workers’ median weekly earnings $902
Asian American nonunion workers’ median weekly earnings $852
Union wage advantage for Asian Americans 6%


Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Union Members in 2008, Jan. 28, 2009; U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, March 2008, August 2008; Economic Policy Institute; Employee Benefits Research Institute, May 2005.

Report Shows Positive Effect Unions have on Arkansas and the Economy

A new report just released from the Center for American Progress talks about the economic benefits of unions in Arkansas. Union members in Arkansas and across the country earn significantly more than non-union workers. Over the four-year period between 2004 and 2007, unionized workers’ wages in Arkansas were on average 7.7 percent higher than non-union workers with similar characteristics. That means that, all else equal, Arkansas workers that join a union will earn 7.7 percent more—or $1.26 more per hour in 2008 dollars—than their otherwise identical non-union counterparts.

Read the CAP report with Arkansas-specific data.

Report Shows Unionization Substantially Improves the Pay and Benefits of Younger Workers
A new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) documents a large wage and benefit advantage for young workers in unions relative to their non-union counterparts. The report also finds that younger workers are earning about 10 percent less than their counterparts did in 1979, despite impressive gains in young workers' educational attainment over the same time period.

"Even though they've done everything right - finished high school and college at higher rates than in the past, young workers have been the hardest hit by stagnant and declining wages over the last 30 years" said John Schmitt, a Senior Economist at CEPR and the author of the study.

The report, "Unions and Upward Mobility for Young Workers," found that young unionized workers - those age 18 to 29 - earned, on average, 12.4 percent more than their non-union peers. In addition, young workers in unions were much more likely to have health insurance benefits and a pension plan.

The report, which analyzed data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS), found that unionization raises the pay of young workers by about $1.75 per hour. According to the report, young workers in unions were also 17 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 24 percentage points more likely to have an employer-provided pension plan than young workers who were not in unions.

"Unions make a big difference for younger workers," said Schmitt. "There is no economic theory that says young people have to be poorly paid or go without benefits."

According to the study, unionization also strongly benefited young workers in typically low-wage occupations. Among young workers in the 15 lowest-paying occupations, union members earned 10.2 percent more than those workers who were not in unions. In the same low-wage occupations, unionized young people were 27 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 26 percentage points more likely to have a pension plan than their non-union counterparts.

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