How much is your Union membership worth over the course of your career?
More than you might think. A lot more.
Two highly regarded researchers calculated the Union difference in wages to be approximately $1.3 million over the course of a worker’s career. Add in high-value benefits, like affordable health care and pensions, which are negotiated into Union contracts, and the difference becomes even greater.
The researchers, Zachary Parolin of Bocconi University in Milan and Tom VanHeuvelen of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, examined the earning histories of workers over the past half-century.
They determined Union members earned substantially more than their non-Union peers.
In fact, a worker without a college degree who has been in a Union for 100% of his or her career is expected to make more than a non-Union worker with a college degree.
Of course, we’ve long known Union members make more than their non-Union counterparts. In 2021, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed non-Union workers made just 83% of Unionized workers’ wages.
This new study, however, focuses on the long-term effects of a career spent as a Union member.
This information is doubly relevant in a time when Americans are increasingly concerned about wealth being concentrated among a tiny percentage of individuals. It points to why workers are showing more interest in joining Unions than they have in decades.
“All this research shows Unions are really important for [addressing] inequality, … equality and economic polarization,” VanHeuvelen said.
The best way to help working people is to give them the power to stand together as Union members.