For Service Workers, Unions Make A Big Financial Difference
In North Carolina, unionization raises the wages of the average service worker by 8.1 percent, new study finds
RALEIGH (April 7, 2009) - Service-sector workers who are members of labor unions earn significantly more than their non-union peers. They also are more apt to receive employer-sponsored health insurance and retirement benefits. Overall, workers in service jobs benefit as much from union membership as do workers in manufacturing-sector jobs.
"The average North Carolina service worker who is a union member earns 8.1 percent more than a non-unionized one," says John Quinterno, Research Associate at the NC Budget & Tax Center.
These findings come from a new report, Unions and Upward Mobility for Service-Sector Workers, by economist John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). A think tank based in Washington D.C., CEPR is a research partner of the Budget & Tax Center.
Nationwide, the report found that unionized service-sector workers earn 10.1 percent - or about $2.00 per hour - more than their non-unionized peers. The wage premium is even more pronounced for workers in such low-paid occupations as food service workers, home-care aides, child-care workers and teaching assistants. For individuals working in the nation's 15 lowest-wage occupations, unionization increases their wages by 15.5 percent or almost $3.00 per hour.
"In North Carolina, the median unionized service worker in North Carolina earns $19.91 per hour while the typical non-unionized service worker earns $13.87," adds Quinterno. "Besides raising hourly pay, unionization increases the odds that a service-sector worker, especially a low-wage one, will receive employer-sponsored health insurance and retirement benefits. Nationally, 77 percent of unionized service workers have employer-sponsored health insurance and 76 percent have a retirement plan."
"A growing body of research evidence shows that unions play a powerful role in turning low-paying jobs into middle-class jobs, " explains Quinterno. "Strengthening the ability of workers to exercise their rights to form unions and bargain collectively over wages, benefits and working conditions is a simple yet powerful way of improving the quality of service-sector jobs."