What Are Union Wages?


"Union wages" is a colloquial term referring to the compensation and benefits that a member of a labor union receives. According to the University of Iowa, union employees in most industries receive better wages and benefits than their non-unionized counterparts. This is largely due to the power granted to unions through collective bargaining, in which a union's members negotiate terms with employers as a single, cohesive unit. This generally result in both better compensation and improved working conditions.


The wages that a member of a union receives depend in large part on the profession the person holds. For example, a master plumber will generally make far more than a janitor. The chief difference between union and non-union wages is that union wages are bargained collectively rather one-on-one between the employee and employer. This means that all employees with similar skills and experience are generally paid the same amount. According to the AFL-CIO, union salaries are, on average, 30 percent higher than non-union salaries.


In addition to wages, the majority of union employees are compensated with benefits. Due to collective bargaining, union employees generally have more benefits than non-union employees. According to the AFL-CIO, whereas14 percent of nonunion employees have retirement pensions, 68 percent of union employees do. In addition, 97 percent of union employees are provided with health insurance benefits, while only 85 percent of nonunion employees have these benefits. However, the exact benefits an employees receives will vary greatly depending on industry and experience.


One of the additional benefits of being in a union is the seniority system. According to the seniority system, employees with more experience, who have held a position for a longer period of time, receive more money than newer employees. Also, more senior employees also enjoy greater job security than new hires.


The exact amount that a member of a union makes as compared to his private-sector counterpart will vary greatly depending on the industry in which the employees work. According to the University of Iowa, the difference between union and nonunion pay is due in part to the power a union commands in an industry, which provides bargaining leverage. Many industries are dominated by unions, such as the automotive and the coal mining industries, while others, such as the retail service sector, have relatively few unions.

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