The new administration and Congress are coming into power at a time of growing income inequality, giving working people an important reason to join unions.
The average income of the top 1 percent of families rose from $990,000 in 2009 to $1.36 million in 2015 – a jump of 37 percent. In that same time, the average income of the bottom 99 percent grew only by 7.6 percent – from $45,300 in 2009 to $48,800 in 2015, according to economist Emmanuel Saez.
Unionized workers are paid more and have superior benefits compared to nonunion employees. On average, union workers earn 27 percent higher wages. They are also 60 percent more likely to hold down jobs that come with employer-provided pensions.
Nearly eight in 10 union workers have jobs that provide health insurance. That alone is a reason to join a union given that Trump and his congressional allies are bent on dismantling the life-saving Affordable Care Act but have yet to produce a viable alternative.
Another reason why working people need unions: To hold their employers accountable.
Consider this example: According to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor, a worker at a beef jerky plant in West Virginia rushed to help a coworker who got part of his thumb sliced off by a band saw. Rather than praising her, her employer fired her complaining that “production was slow,” according to the U.S. DOL’s Complaint.
This type of behavior is bound to escalate if corporate owners are allowed to operate with impunity. This case is a stark reminder of why workers need unions—to hold employers accountable for their actions and to treat workers fairly and humanely.