Today, we celebrate American workers. And we celebrate labor unions, who make a real difference in the lives of all working families.
In Ohio, more than 13 percent of workers belong to unions, including the 34,000 who are members of OAPSE and are sticking with their union! We know that union workers have higher wages, better benefits and stronger retirements.
In fact, according to the Economic Policy Institute, “unionized workers earn on average 11.2% more in wages than nonunionized peers (workers in the same industry and occupation with similar education and experience). Unionized Black workers are paid 13.7% more than their nonunionized peers, while unionized Hispanic workers are paid 20.1% more than their nonunionized peers. White workers represented by unions are paid 8.7% more than their nonunionized peers.
The EPI also reports that 94% of workers covered by a union contract have access to employer-sponsored health benefits, compared with just 68% of nonunion workers and that 91% of workers covered by a union contract have access to paid sick days, compared with 73% of nonunion workers.
And, of course, higher wages mean more robust retirement benefits after a lifetime of work.
Americans are increasingly seeing the value of unions and what workers can do when they have a strong voice on the job.
A new Gallup survey shows that labor unions have their highest approval rating – 65 percent – since 2003.
And membership in labor unions has remained steady in recent years, even with comprehensive campaigns to limit workers’ ability to join them and the rise of groups like the “Freedom Foundation” which are backed by the Koch brothers and big corporations with the mission of crushing unions and the power they bring workers.
The positive view of unions is further driven by the contributions they make to society as a whole. Terri Gerstein, director of the State and Local Enforcement Project at the Harvard Labor and Worklife Program, explores the ways unions impact communities in her new piece for NBC news think. You can find that here.
So, as you celebrate Labor Day and the dignity of work, celebrate your role in strengthening your workplace, your community and your country.
Happy Labor Day!