Stronger Together: How Unions Help Strengthen Families and the Nation
“Stronger Together: How Unions Help Strengthen Families and the Nation” makes a fresh case that unions are essential to restoring the American Dream for millions of hardworking people in our country. It provides data-driven analysis and union members’ individual accounts of how unions make it possible for working people, their families, and whole communities to live a better life.
THE UNION ADVANTAGE
Restoring unions’ strength is critical to helping hardworking Americans receive a fair share of the wealth they create. On average, unionized workers earn $207 more per week than non-unionized workers. Unionized workers also have more access to paid holidays, paid sick leave, life insurance, medical and retirement benefits than those workers who are not unionized.
The benefits of union membership extend far beyond union members. Unionized workforces lead to less turnover for employers and more highly skilled workers; children of union members are more likely to climb the ladder to the middle class; and states with higher union density have better workplace laws.
PROTECTING AND RESTORING WORKERS’ RIGHT TO ORGANIZE
Employers engage in illegal tactics to fight against union organizing drives. An analysis of illegal employer conduct during union organizing campaigns found that 47 percent of employers threaten cuts in benefits or wages if their employees join a union; 57 percent threaten to close the facility; and 34 percent fire at least one employee in retaliation for organizing.
There are ongoing attempts to roll back worker protections. Since Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives, they have convened 22 hearings or mark-ups in the Committee on Education and the Workforce undermining workers’ ability to organize and collectively bargain.
Union avoidance consultants are commonplace, but shouldn’t be. Employers can take steps to allow for a fair election so that employees can freely choose whether to form a union. Employers can adopt neutrality agreements and endorse principles for a fair election.
Legislative action can strengthen the National Labor Relations Act to better protect workers. The Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (WAGE) Act, which was introduced in September of 2015 by House Education and Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott, and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray, achieves that goal. The WAGE Act would give workers a right to pursue claims for violations of the Act in court, receive triple back pay for illegal terminations or other forms of retaliation regardless of immigration status, be reinstated quickly if they have been illegally discharged, and receive civil penalties of up to $50,000 for violations resulting in serious economic harm. In the case of employees who work for a temporary agency, a leasing agency or another labor supplier, the Act gives employees the right to hold the work site employer jointly and severally liable when an unfair labor practice is committed.