Union Difference


 Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

The average nonunion worker earned about 20 percent less than the average unionized employee worker in wages alone.

The average nonunion worker earned about 33 percent less than the average unionized employee in total compensation.

Some of the most important benefits that workers get from Union membership are impossible to put a price tag on: representatives in the workplace of our own choosing, an active, collective voice to bargain over working conditions, and due process on the job. As union members, we know that collective bargaining is the best way to promote basic, democratic principles of fairness and dignity at work. But being in a union confers significant economic benefits as well. Unions have historically been the most effective institutions in our society at making sure the economic gains that workers help to create are shared widely rather than being channeled solely to the executive suite. The data below illustrates “The Union Difference” and shows why more and more people are joining unions today.

Union Difference – Annually 2015
Union Status Median Wkly. Earnings Any Retirement Benefits Defined Benefit Pension Medical Benefits
Union $980 86% 76% 83%
Non-Union $776 48% 16% 62%

Number of Union Members in the United States: 16.4 million

Percentage of Workers Who Belong to Unions
United States   11.1%
Public Sector 35.2%
  Local Government Workers 41.3%
  State Government Workers 30.2%
  Federal Government Workers 27.3%

Private Sector 6.7%
  Utilities 21.4%
  Information Industries (includes Telecommunications) 8.6%
  Telecommunications 13.3%
  Construction 13.2%
  Manufacturing 9.4%
  Transportation & Warehousing 19.3%
Occupational Groups  
  Education, Training & Library 35.5%
  Protective Service Workers 36.3%
  Transportation and Material Moving 14.2%
  Construction and Extraction 17.2%
  Installation, Maintenance & Repair 14.7%
  Production 12.6%
  Community & Social Services 15.3%
  Sales & Related 3.3%
  Farming, Fishing & Forestry 1.9%

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Union Members – 2015, and AFL-CIO “The Union Difference”

Click here for additional information offered by the AFL-CIO on “The Union Difference”

Updated 3/11/2016 by IAM&AW Strategic Resources Department